In vitro exploration of a myeloid-derived suppressor cell line as vehicle for cancer gene therapy

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Recent research indicates that cell-mediated gene therapy can be an interesting method to obtain intratumoral expression of therapeutic proteins. This paper explores the possibility of using transfected myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs), derived from a murine cell line, as cellular vehicles for transporting plasmid DNA (pDNA) encoding interleukin-12 (IL-12) to tumors. Transfecting these cells via electroporation caused massive cell death. This was not due to electroporation-induced cell damage, but was mainly the result of the intracellular presence of plasmids. In contrast, pDNA transfection using Lipofectamine 2000 (LF2000) did not result in a significant loss of viability. Differences in delivery mechanism may explain the distinctive effects on cell viability. Indeed, electroporation is expected to cause a rapid and massive influx of pDNA resulting in cytosolic pDNA levels that most likely surpass the activation threshold of the intracellular DNA sensors leading to cell death. In contrast, a more sustained intracellular release of the pDNA is expected with LF2000. After lipofection with LF2000, 56% of the MDSCs were transfected and transgene expression lasted for at least 24 h. Moreover, biologically relevant amounts of IL-12 were produced by the MDSCs after lipofection with an IL-12 encoding pDNA. In addition, IL-12 transfection caused a significant upregulation of CD80 and considerably reduced the immunosuppressive capacity of the MDSCs. IL-12-transfected MDSCs were still able to migrate to tumor cells, albeit that lipofection of the MDSCs seemed to slightly decrease their migration capacity.

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This work was supported by grants of the University of Ghent (BOF) and by grants from the research foundation—Flanders (FWO; G.0235.11N and G.0621.10N). FC is a fellow of the research foundation—Flanders (FWO).

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Correspondence to N N Sanders.

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Supplementary Information accompanies the paper on Cancer Gene Therapy website

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