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Cancer Gene Ther. 2005 Mar;12(3):329-39.

Imaging progress of herpes simplex virus type 1 thymidine kinase suicide gene therapy in living subjects with positron emission tomography.

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Department of Molecular & Medical Pharmacology, UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California 90095-1770, USA.


Molecular imaging of a suicide transgene's expression will aid the development of efficient and precise targeting strategies, and imaging for cancer cell viability may assess therapeutic efficacy. We used the PET reporter probe, 9-(4-[18F]fluoro-3-(hydroxymethyl)butyl)guanine ([18F]FHBG) to monitor the expression of a mutant Herpes Simplex Virus 1 thymidine kinase (HSV1-sr39tk) in C6 glioma tumors implanted subcutaneously in nude mice that were repetitively being treated with the pro-drug Ganciclovir (GCV). [18F]-Fluorodeoxyglucose ([18F]FDG), a metabolic tracer, was used to assess tumor cell viability and therapeutic efficacy. C6 glioma tumors stably expressing the HSV1-sr39tk gene (C6sr39) accumulated [18F]FHBG prior to GCV treatment. Significant declines in C6sr39 tumor volumes and [18F]FHBG and [18F]FDG accumulation were observed following 2 weeks of GCV treatment. However, 3 weeks after halting GCV treatment, the tumors re-grew and [18F]FDG accumulation increased significantly; in contrast, tumor [18F]FHBG concentrations remained at background levels. Therefore, [18F]FHBG can be used to detect tumors expressing HSV1-sr39tk, susceptible to regression in response to GCV exposure, and the effectiveness of GCV therapy in eradicating HSV1-sr39tk-expressing cells can be monitored by [18F]FHBG scanning. [18F]FHBG and [18F]FDG imaging data indicate that exposure of C6sr39 tumors to GCV causes the elimination of [18F]FHBG-accumulating C6sr39 cells and selects for re-growth of tumors unable to accumulate [18F]FHBG.

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