Purpose: To assess whether adenovirus-mediated retinoblastoma 94 (Ad-RB94) transgene expression enhances efficacy of radiation therapy (XRT) of human head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Experimental Design: The HNSCC cell lines (JHU006 and JHU012) were treated in vitro and in a nude mouse xenograft model with Ad-RB94, Ad-DL312 control vector, or untreated as mock control. Cell viability and tumor growth were evaluated and combined RB94/XRTantitumor activity was analyzed by measuring DNA double-strand breaks, apoptosis-associated early DNA fragmentation, and levels of RB-regulated cell cycle progression E2F1 transcription factor. Results: Ad-RB94/XRTresulted in significant HNSCC cell growth inhibition compared with XRT alone or Ad-RB94 alone in vitro and caused significant tumor regression compared with XRT alone and Ad-DL312/XRT in JHU006 and with XRTalone, Ad-DL312/XRTand Ad-RB94 alone in JHU012 in vivo. Neutral comet analysis revealed that DNA damage was significantly elevated in cells treated with Ad-RB94 alone and Ad-RB94/XRT. Tumors treated with Ad-RB94 alone showed a striking increase in early apoptosis DNA fragmentation, and DNA fragmentation was further enhanced with XRT. In addition, levels of E2F1 were up-regulated by Ad-RB94/XRT combination, whereas Ad-RB94 alone did not affect E2F1 levels and XRT alone led to down-regulation of E2F1. Conclusions: A potent antitumor effect has been observed after Ad-RB94/XRT combination treatment in HNSCC xenograft tumors. Enhanced tumor regression correlated with increased apoptosis. Ad-RB94 treatment enhances the efficacy of XRT through tumor cell sensitization by arresting the cells at the radiation-sensitive G2-M cell cycle and via E2F1 up-regulation.
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