Regulation of proliferation and functioning of transplanted cells by using herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase gene in mice

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Though cell transplantation is becoming an attractive therapeutic method, uncontrolled cell proliferation or overexpression of cellular functions could cause adverse effects. These unfavorable outcomes could be avoided by regulating the proliferation or functioning of transplanted cells. In this study, we used a combination of the herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase (HSVtk) gene, a suicide gene, and ganciclovir (GCV) to control the proliferation and functioning of insulin-secreting cells after transplantation in diabetic mice. Mouse pancreatic β cell line MIN6 cells were selected as insulin-secreting cells for transfection with the HSVtk gene to obtain MIN6/HSVtk cells. Proliferation of MIN6/HSVtk cells was suppressed by GCV in a concentration-dependent manner; 0.25 μg/mL GCV maintained a constant number of MIN6/HSVtk cells for at least 16 days. MIN6 or MIN6/HSVtk cells were then transplanted to streptozotocin-induced diabetic mice. Mice transplanted with MIN6 cells exhibited hypoglycemia irrespective of GCV administration. In contrast, normal (around 150 mg/dL) blood glucose levels were maintained in mice transplanted with MIN6/HSVtk cells by a daily administration of 50 mg/kg of GCV. These results indicate that controlling the proliferation and functioning of HSVtk gene-expressing cells by GCV could greatly improve the usefulness and safety of cell-based therapy.Graphical abstract

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