Publication Date



Breast Cancer Research


INTRODUCTION: Once metastasis has occurred, the possibility of completely curing breast cancer is unlikely, particularly for the 30 to 40% of cancers overexpressing the gene for HER2/neu. A vaccine targeting p185, the protein product of the HER2/neu gene, could have therapeutic application by controlling the growth and metastasis of highly aggressive HER2/neu+ cells. The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of two gene vaccines targeting HER2/neu in preventive and therapeutic tumor models.

METHODS: The mouse breast cancer cell line A2L2, which expresses the gene for rat HER2/neu and hence p185, was injected into the mammary fat pad of mice as a model of solid tumor growth or was injected intravenously as a model of lung metastasis. SINCP-neu, a plasmid containing Sindbis virus genes and the gene for rat HER2/neu, and Adeno-neu, an E1,E2a-deleted adenovirus also containing the gene for rat HER2/neu, were tested as preventive and therapeutic vaccines.

RESULTS: Vaccination with SINCP-neu or Adeno-neu before tumor challenge with A2L2 cells significantly inhibited the growth of the cells injected into the mammary fat or intravenously. Vaccination 2 days after tumor challenge with either vaccine was ineffective in both tumor models. However, therapeutic vaccination in a prime-boost protocol with SINCP-neu followed by Adeno-neu significantly prolonged the overall survival rate of mice injected intravenously with the tumor cells. Naive mice vaccinated using the same prime-boost protocol demonstrated a strong serum immunoglobulin G response and p185-specific cellular immunity, as shown by the results of ELISPOT (enzyme-linked immunospot) analysis for IFNgamma.

CONCLUSION: We report herein that vaccination of mice with a plasmid gene vaccine and an adenovirus gene vaccine, each containing the gene for HER2/neu, prevented growth of a HER2/neu-expressing breast cancer cell line injected into the mammary fat pad or intravenously. Sequential administration of the vaccines in a prime-boost protocol was therapeutically effective when tumor cells were injected intravenously before the vaccination. The vaccines induced high levels of both cellular and humoral immunity as determined by in vitro assessment. These findings indicate that clinical evaluation of these vaccines, particularly when used sequentially in a prime-boost protocol, is justified.


Animals, Cancer Vaccines, Cell Line, Tumor, Female, Genes, erbB-2, Immunization, Secondary, Interferon-gamma, Lung Neoplasms, Mammary Glands, Animal, Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental, Mice, Mice, Inbred BALB C, Mice, Transgenic, Neoplasm Metastasis, Rats, Receptor, erbB-2, Sindbis Virus, Spleen