Research Papers:

Synergistic effect of therapeutic stem cells expressing cytosine deaminase and interferon-beta via apoptotic pathway in the metastatic mouse model of breast cancer

Bo-Rim Yi, Seung U. Kim and Kyung-Chul Choi _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:5985-5999. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.6719

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Bo-Rim Yi1, Seung U. Kim2, Kyung-Chul Choi1,3

1Laboratory of Biochemistry and Immunology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Chungbuk National University, Cheongju, Chungbuk, Republic of Korea

2Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

3TheraCell Bio and Science, Cheongju, Chungbuk, Republic of Korea

Correspondence to:

Kyung-Chul Choi, e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: breast cancer, metastasis, interferon-beta, 5-fluorocytosine, stem cell therapy

Received: August 31, 2015     Accepted: November 25, 2015     Published: December 22, 2015


As an approach to improve treatment of breast cancer metastasis to the brain, we employed genetically engineered stem cells (GESTECs, HB1.F3 cells) consisting of neural stem cells (NSCs) expressing cytosine deaminase and the interferon-beta genes, HB1.F3.CD and HB1.F3.CD.IFN-β. In this model, MDA-MB-231/Luc breast cancer cells were implanted in the right hemisphere of the mouse brain, while pre-stained GESTECs with redfluorescence were implanted in the contralateral brain. Two days after stem cells injection, 5-fluorocytosine (5-FC) was administrated via intraperitoneal injection. Histological analysis of extracted brain confirmed the therapeutic efficacy of GESTECs in the presence of 5-FC based on reductions in density and aggressive tendency of breast cancer cells, as well as pyknosis, karyorrhexis, and karyolysis relative to a negative control. Additionally, expression of PCNA decreased in the stem cells treated group. Treatment of breast cancer cells with 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) increased the expression of pro-apoptotic and anti-proliferative factor, BAX and p21 protein through phosphorylation of p53 and p38. Moreover, analysis of stem cell migratory ability revealed that MDA-MB-231 cells endogenously secreted VEGF, and stem cells expressed their receptor (VEGFR2). To confirm the role of VEGF/VEGFR2 signaling in tumor tropism of stem cells, samples were treated with the VEGFR2 inhibitor, KRN633. The number of migrated stem cells decreased significantly in response to KRN633 due to Erk1/2 activation and PI3K/Akt inhibition. Taken together, these results indicate that treatment with GESTECs, particularly HB1.F3.CD.IFN-β co-expressing CD.IFN-β, may be a useful strategy for treating breast cancer metastasis to the brain in the presence of a prodrug.

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