Hepatoblastoma (HB) is the most common primary, malignant pediatric liver tumor in children. The treatment results for affected children have markedly improved in recent decades. However, the prognosis for high-risk patients who have extrahepatic extensions, invasion of the large hepatic veins, distant metastases and very high alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) serum levels remains poor. There is an urgent need for the development of novel therapeutic approaches.
An attenuated strain of measles virus, derived from the Edmonston vaccine lineage, was genetically engineered to produce carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA). We investigated the antitumor potential of this novel viral agent against human HB both in vitro and in vivo.
Infection of the Hep2G and HUH6 HB cell lines, at multiplicities of infection (MOIs) ranging from 0.01 to 1, resulted in a significant cytopathic effect consisting of extensive syncytia formation and massive cell death at 72–96 h after infection. Both of the HB lines overexpressed the measles virus receptor CD46 and supported robust viral replication, which correlated with CEA production. The efficacy of this approach in vivo was examined in murine Hep2G xenograft models. Flow cytometry assays indicated an apoptotic mechanism of cell death. Intratumoral administration of MV-CEA resulted in statistically significant delay of tumor growth and prolongation of survival.
The engineered measles virus Edmonston strain MV-CEA has potent therapeutic efficacy against HB cell lines and xenografts. Trackable measles virus derivatives merit further exploration in HB treatment.