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Gene Ther. 2001 Oct;8(19):1450-5.

Expression of HGF/NK4 in ovarian cancer cells suppresses intraperitoneal dissemination and extends host survival.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Center for Molecular Medicine, Jichi Medical School, Yakushiji, Minamikawachi, Tochigi, Japan.


Peritoneal dissemination is the most frequent progression pathway of ovarian cancer and is therefore a key step to improve the prognosis. NK4, a large part of the alpha-chain of hepatocyte growth factor, is known to inhibit cancer cell migration. To characterize the function of NK4 and investigate its potential role in gene therapy of ovarian cancer, we introduced NK4 cDNA to an ovarian cancer cell line HRA and investigated its effects both in vitro and in vivo. HRA cells were transfected with either NK4 or luciferase-expression plasmids. After selection, NK4-expressing HRA cells (HRA/NK4) and the control cells (HRA/LUC) were obtained. NK4 was detected in the culture supernatant of HRA/NK4 by Western analysis. Migration capabilities of the cells were evaluated in vitro by scratch wound healing assay. The number of migrated cells was significantly smaller in the HRA/NK4 cultures than that in the control cultures (HRA or HRA/LUC). Also, the culture supernatant of HRA/NK4 significantly suppressed migration of control cells. This suppressive effect was observed when NK4-expressing cells were mixed with control cells at the ratio of 25% or more. In the in vivo experiments, HRA transfectants were injected intraperitoneally. The number of intraperitoneal tumors of HRA/NK4 was much smaller than that of control. In mice injected with HRA/NK4, ascites formation was suppressed and the survival was significantly prolonged. These findings suggest that NK4-mediated gene therapy can improve the prognosis of ovarian cancer by suppressing peritoneal dissemination.

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