ABSTRACT: Despite important advances in human therapeutics, no specific treatment for both non-functioning gonadotroph and resistant somatotroph adenomas is available. Gene transfer by viral vectors can be considered as a promising way to achieve a specific and efficient treatment. Here we show the possibility of efficient gene transfer in human pituitary adenoma cells in vitro using a human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-type 1-derived vector. Using enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) gene as a marker placed under the phosphoglycerate kinase (PGK) promoter, gonadotroph and somatotroph adenomas were transduced even with moderate viral loads. The expression started at day 2, reached a peak at day 5, and it was still present at day 90. For targeting somatotroph and gonadotroph adenomas, human growth hormone (GH) promoter (GH -481, +54 bp) and two fragments of the human glycoprotein hormone alpha-subunit promoter (alpha-subunit 1 -520, +33 bp, and alpha-subunit 2 -907, +33 bp) were tested. In gonadotroph adenomas, the percentage of identified fluorescent cells and the fluorescence intensity analyzed by fluorescence-activated cell sorting indicated that the strength of the alpha-subunit 1 and alpha-subunit 2 promoters were comparable to that of the PGK promoter. Primary cultures of rat pituitary cells showed that alpha-subunit 1 is more selective to thyreotroph and gonadotroph phenotypes than alpha-subunit 2. GH promoter activity appeared weak in somatotroph adenomas. The human GH enhancer did not increase the GH promoter activity at all but the human prolactin promoter (-250 bp) allowed 4-fold more fluorescent cells to be obtained than the GH promoter. Several cell lines appeared too permissive to test cell-specificity of pituitary promoters. However, on human non-pituitary cell cultures, the tested pituitary promoters seemed clearly selective to target endocrine pituitary phenotypes. This study gives a starting point for a gene-therapy program using lentiviral vectors to transfer therapeutic genes in human pituitary adenomas.
Journal of Endocrinology 11/2004; 183(1):217-33. · 3.55 Impact Factor