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Cancer Gene Ther. 2007 Feb;14(2):139-50. Epub 2006 Dec 1.

Minimal hepatic toxicity of Onyx-015: spatial restriction of coxsackie-adenoviral receptor in normal liver.

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  • 1Palo Alto Veteran's Administration Health Care System and Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA.


We administered an adenoviral vector, Onyx-015, into the hepatic artery of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer involving the liver. Thirty-five patients enrolled in this multi-institutional phase I/II trial received up to eight arterial infusions of up to 2 x 10(12) viral particles. Hepatic toxicity was the primary dose-limiting toxicity observed in preclinical models. However, nearly 200 infusions of this adenoviral vector were administered directly into the hepatic artery without significant toxicity. Therefore, we undertook this analysis to determine the impact of repeated adenoviral exposure on hepatic function. Seventeen patients were treated at our institution, providing a detailed data set on the changes in hepatic function following repeated exposure to adenovirus. No changes in hepatic function occurred with the first treatment of Onyx-015 among these patients. Transient increases in transaminase levels occurred in one patient starting with the second infusion and transient increases in bilirubin was observed in two patients starting with the fifth treatment. These changes occurred too early to be explained by viral-mediated lysis of hepatocytes. In addition, viremia was observed starting 3-5 days after the viral infusion in half of the patient, but was not associated with hepatic toxicity. To further understand the basis for the minimal hepatic toxicity of adenoviral vectors, we evaluated the replication of adenovirus in primary hepatocytes and tumor cells in culture and the expression of the coxsackie-adenoviral receptor (CAR) in normal liver and colon cancer metastatic to the liver. We found that adenovirus replicates poorly in primary hepatocytes but replicates efficiently in tumors including tumors derived from hepatocytes. In addition, we found that CAR is localized at junctions between hepatocytes and is inaccessible to hepatic blood flow. CAR is not expressed on tumor vasculature but is expressed on tumor cells. Spatial restriction of CAR to the intercellular space in normal liver and diminished replication of adenovirus in hepatocytes may explain the minimal toxicity observed following repeated hepatic artery infusions with Onyx-015.

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