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J Virol. 2007 Feb;81(3):1479-91. Epub 2006 Nov 15.

Variable deficiencies in the interferon response enhance susceptibility to vesicular stomatitis virus oncolytic actions in glioblastoma cells but not in normal human glial cells.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Yale University School of Medicine, 333 Cedar St., New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


With little improvement in the poor prognosis for humans with high-grade glioma brain tumors, alternative therapeutic strategies are needed. As such, selective replication-competent oncolytic viruses may be useful as a potential treatment modality. Here we test the hypothesis that defects in the interferon (IFN) pathway could be exploited to enhance the selective oncolytic profile of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) in glioblastoma cells. Two green fluorescent protein-expressing VSV strains, recombinant VSV and the glioma-adapted recombinant VSV-rp30a, were used to study infection of a variety of human glioblastoma cell lines compared to a panel of control cells, including normal human astrocytes, oligodendrocyte precursor cells, and primary explant cultures from human brain tissue. Infection rate, cell viability, viral replication, and IFN-alpha/beta-related gene expression were compared in the absence and presence of IFN-alpha or polyriboinosinic polyribocytidylic acid [poly(I:C)], a synthetic inducer of the IFN-alpha/beta pathway. Both VSV strains caused rapid and total infection and death of all tumor cell lines tested. To a lesser degree, normal cells were also subject to VSV infection. In contrast, IFN-alpha or poly(I:C) completely attenuated the infection of all primary control brain cells, whereas most glioblastoma cell lines treated with IFN-alpha or poly(I:C) showed little or no sign of protection and were killed by VSV. Together, our results demonstrate that activation of the interferon pathway protects normal human brain cells from VSV infection while maintaining the vulnerability of human glioblastoma cells to viral destruction.

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