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Clin Cancer Res. 2008 Mar 15;14(6):1897-904. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-07-4615.

Sensitivity of squamous cell carcinoma lymph node metastases to herpes oncolytic therapy.

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Head and Neck Service and Gastric, Department of Surgery, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York 10021, USA.



Cancer metastases may have phenotypic and genetic differences from their primary cancers of origin. Engineered, replication-competent, attenuated viruses based on herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) have shown potent oncolytic effects in treating primary tumors in animal tumor models, but their efficacy in treating lymph node metastases is poorly understood. We compared the efficacy of an attenuated oncolytic HSV-1 (NV1023) in treating a series of murine squamous carcinoma cell lines derived from serial implantation and harvest from metastatic lymph nodes.


The auricles of C3H/HeJ mice were implanted with SCCVII. Cervical nodal metastases were isolated, expanded in vitro, and reimplanted into new mice. A series of cell lines (LN1-LN7) were generated through seven serial passages. Cells from higher LN passages showed consistent trends toward increased migratory and invasive ability, increased cell surface nectin-1 (an HSV-1 receptor) expression, and increased glycoprotein D binding. Exposure to NV1023 showed increased viral entry, replication, and cytotoxicity with higher LN passages. Intratumoral injection of NV1023 in a murine flank tumor model caused significantly greater tumor regression and increased viral infection of LN7 compared with SCCVII.


These results show that lymph node metastases may undergo selection for characteristics, including increased nectin-1 expression, that make them more sensitive targets for herpes oncolytic therapy. These findings support the clinical application of these agents for the treatment of lymph node metastases.

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