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Uwe M. H. Schrell, Stefan Gauer, Franklin Kiesewetter, Andreas Bickel, Jürgen Hren, Eric F. Adams and Rudolf Fahlbusch

✓ The growth of human cerebral meningiomas depends on various growth factors, including epidermal growth factor (EGF), transforming growth factor (TGF)-α and TGF-β, platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-BB, insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I and IGF-II, and acidic and basic fibroblast growth factors. The latter three have been shown to form autocrine loops that are thought to be a major component of uncontrolled growth in meningioma tissue. Suramin is known to prevent binding of a variety of growth factors to their receptors in mammalian tissue, thus abolishing para- and/or autocrine-mediated cell growth. The authors therefore tested the effect of suramin on the proliferation of cultured human meningioma cells.

Suramin (10−5 to 10−4 M) significantly inhibited the growth of meningioma cells in culture. The maximum effect observed was with the higher dose (10−4 M), which resulted in a 40% to 70% reduction in cellular proliferation. This effect was observed in all 15 tumor samples studied and was confirmed by [3H]thymidine uptake. In studies using DNA flow cytometry, suramin inhibited meningioma cell proliferation in five tumor samples by arresting cells in the S and G2/M phases of the cell cycle. Growth factor (EGF, IGF-I, and PDGF-BB)—induced cell proliferation was completely abolished in five tumor samples when 10−4 M suramin was applied to meningioma cells. Western blot analysis of three tumor samples showed that the intracellular PDGF-BB content of meningioma cells was significantly reduced after treating the cells with 10−4 M suramin. Binding of iodinated growth factors (that is, [125I]EGF, [125I]IGF-I, and [125I]PDGF-BB) to their receptor sites was prevented by suramin in a dose-dependent manner in 10 meningioma membrane fractions. Lowering of the intracellular PDGF content and prevention of extracellular growth factor receptor binding demonstrates that suramin disrupts autocrine loops and paracrine growth stimulation in meningioma tissue.

These data provide evidence that growth of cerebral meningiomas in culture is strongly inhibited by suramin at a concentration of 10−4 M. Suramin acts as a scavenger neutralizing exogenous growth factors; thus it can interrupt autocrine loops and paracrine stimulation of human meningioma cell growth. The evidence favors suramin as a therapeutic option for controlling meningioma proliferation in patients with inoperable and recurrent high-grade meningiomas.

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Mihaela A. Stavarache, Nicholas Petersen, Eric M. Jurgens, Elizabeth R. Milstein, Zachary B. Rosenfeld, Douglas J. Ballon and Michael G. Kaplitt

OBJECTIVE

Surgical infusion of gene therapy vectors has provided opportunities for biological manipulation of specific brain circuits in both animal models and human patients. Transient focal opening of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) by MR-guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS) raises the possibility of noninvasive CNS gene therapy to target precise brain regions. However, variable efficiency and short follow-up of studies to date, along with recent suggestions of the potential for immune reactions following MRgFUS BBB disruption, all raise questions regarding the viability of this approach for clinical translation. The objective of the current study was to evaluate the efficiency, safety, and long-term stability of MRgFUS-mediated noninvasive gene therapy in the mammalian brain.

METHODS

Focused ultrasound under the control of MRI, in combination with microbubbles consisting of albumin-coated gas microspheres, was applied to rat striatum, followed by intravenous infusion of an adeno-associated virus serotype 1/2 (AAV1/2) vector expressing green fluorescent protein (GFP) as a marker. Following recovery, animals were followed from several hours up to 15 months. Immunostaining for GFP quantified transduction efficiency and stability of expression. Quantification of neuronal markers was used to determine histological safety over time, while inflammatory markers were examined for evidence of immune responses.

RESULTS

Transitory disruption of the BBB by MRgFUS resulted in efficient delivery of the AAV1/2 vector to the targeted rodent striatum, with 50%–75% of striatal neurons transduced on average. GFP transgene expression appeared to be stable over extended periods of time, from 2 weeks to 6 months, with evidence of ongoing stable expression as long as 16 months in a smaller cohort of animals. No evidence of substantial toxicity, tissue injury, or neuronal loss was observed. While transient inflammation from BBB disruption alone was noted for the first few days, consistent with prior observations, no evidence of brain inflammation was observed from 2 weeks to 6 months following MRgFUS BBB opening, despite delivery of a virus and expression of a foreign protein in target neurons.

CONCLUSIONS

This study demonstrates that transitory BBB disruption using MRgFUS can be a safe and efficient method for site-specific delivery of viral vectors to the brain, raising the potential for noninvasive focal human gene therapy for neurological disorders.