Mesenchymal stem cells modified with a single-chain antibody against EGFRvIII successfully inhibit the growth of human xenograft malignant glioma

Irina V Balyasnikova, Sherise D Ferguson, Sadhak Sengupta, Yu Han, Maciej S Lesniak
PloS One 2010 March 18, 5 (3): e9750

BACKGROUND: Glioblastoma multiforme is the most lethal brain tumor with limited therapeutic options. Antigens expressed on the surface of malignant cells are potential targets for antibody-mediated gene/drug delivery.

PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: In this study, we investigated the ability of genetically modified human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) expressing a single-chain antibody (scFv) on their surface against a tumor specific antigen, EGFRvIII, to enhance the therapy of EGFRvIII expressing glioma cells in vivo. The growth of U87-EGFRvIII was specifically delayed in co-culture with hMSC-scFvEGFRvIII. A significant down-regulation was observed in the expression of pAkt in EGFRvIII expressing glioma cells upon culture with hMSC-scFvEGFRvIII vs. controls as well as in EGFRvIII expressing glioma cells from brain tumors co-injected with hMSC-scFvEGFRvIII in vivo. hMSC expressing scFvEGFRvIII also demonstrated several fold enhanced retention in EGFRvIII expressing flank and intracranial glioma xenografts vs. control hMSCs. The growth of U87-EGFRvIII flank xenografts was inhibited by 50% in the presence of hMSC-scFvEGFRvIII (p<0.05). Moreover, animals co-injected with U87-EGFRvIII and hMSC-scFvEGFRvIII intracranially showed significantly improved survival compared to animals injected with U87-EGFRvIII glioma cells alone or with control hMSCs. This survival was further improved when the same animals received an additional dosage of hMSC-scFvEGFRvIII two weeks after initial tumor implantation. Of note, EGFRvIII expressing brain tumors co-injected with hMSCs had a lower density of CD31 expressing blood vessels in comparison with control tumors, suggesting a possible role in tumor angiogenesis.

CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: The results presented in this study illustrate that genetically modified MSCs may function as a novel therapeutic vehicle for malignant brain tumors.

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