The potential of 5-fluorocytosine/cytosine deaminase enzyme prodrug gene therapy in an intrahepatic colon cancer model

M. K. Nyati, Z. Symon, E. Kievit, K. J. Dornfeld, S. D. Rynkiewicz, B. D. Ross, A. Rehemtulla, T. S. Lawrence*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colorectal cancer can metastasize to the liver, but remain liver confined for years. A critical step in developing treatments for intrahepatic cancer involves assessment in an orthotopic intrahepatic model. The purpose of this study was to develop a noninvasive intrahepatic tumor model to study the efficacy of 5-flucytosine/yeast cytosine deaminase (5FC/yCD)-based gene therapy for liver tumors. Luciferase expressing human colorectal carcinoma (HT-29luc) cells were generated by retroviral infection and implanted in the left liver lobe of nude mice. The bioluminescence was measured every week for a period of 1 month, then animals were killed and tumors were measured by calipers. After we found a correlation between photon counts and tumor size, animals were implanted with tumors composed of either 0%, 10%, or 100% yCD/HT-29luc cells, and treated with 5FC. Tumor bioluminescence was measured during treatment and tumor histology examined at the time of death. We found that 5FC caused significant regression of yCD expressing tumors. Furthermore, visible tumors at the time of death, which emitted little bioluminescence, contained little or no viable tumor. We then developed an adenoviral vector for yCD. Intraperitoneal administration of adenovirus containing yCD led to the production of yCD enzyme within intrahepatic tumors. These results suggest that (1) intrahepatic cancer responds to 5FC when cells express yCD; (2) the luciferin-luciferase system permits non-invasive real time imaging of viable intrahepatic cancer; and (3) this system can be used to carry out gene therapy experiments using yCD adenovirus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)844-849
Number of pages6
JournalGene Therapy
Issue number13
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • 5FU
  • Colorectal neoplasms
  • Cytosine deaminase
  • Gene therapy


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