Ovarian cancer is the most lethal gynaecological cancer, most patients relapse within 12 to 24 months, and eventually die, especially platinum-resistant patients. Gene therapy has been one of the most potential methods for tumor treatment. Bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs) have been used for systemic delivery of therapeutic genes to solid tumors. Sodium iodide symporter (NIS) is an intrinsic membrane glycoprotein and can concentrate 131I, which is important for radionuclide therapy and nuclear medicine imaging in recent years. However, the rapid iodine efflux has become a bottleneck for NIS-mediated radionuclide gene therapy. Our previous studies found that the early growth response-1 (Egr1) promoter containing CArG elements had an 131I radiation positive feedback effect on the NIS gene. Other research showed the synthesized Egr1 promoter containing four CArG elements, E4, was nearly three times as sensitive as the Egr1 promoter. In our study, BMSC-E4-NIS was engineered to express NIS under the control of E4 promoter using lentivirial vectors. After BMSC-E4-NIS implantation, no tumors were seen in BALB/c nude mice and BMSC-E4-NIS did not promote the growth of SKOV3 tumor. BMSCs migrated towards ovarian cancer samples in chemotaxis assays and to ovarian tumors in mice. Using micro-SPECT/CT imaging, we found E4 promoter produced a notable increase in 125I uptake after 131I irradiation, the radionuclide uptake is almost three and six times more than Egr1 and CMV promoters. These studies confirmed the feasibility of using BMSCs as carriers for lentivirus mediated E4-NIS gene therapy for ovarian cancer. Further research on BMSC-E4-NIS gene therapy for ovarian cancer in vivo will also be carried on, if successful, this might provide a new adjuvant therapeutical option for platinum-resistant ovarian cancer patients and provide a new method for dynamic evaluation of curative effect.
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