Human α-Lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor Cells (HAMLET) Kills Human Glioblastoma Cells in Brain Xenografts by an Apoptosis-Like Mechanism and Prolongs Survival

Walter Fischer, Lotta Gustafsson, Ann Kristin Mossberg, Janne Gronli, Sverre Mork, Rolf Bjerkvig, Catharina Svanborg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

132 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Malignant brain tumors present a major therapeutic challenge because no selective or efficient treatment is available. Here, we demonstrate that intratumoral administration of human α-lactalbumin made lethal to tumor cells (HAMLET) prolongs survival in a human glioblastoma (GBM) xenograft model, by selective induction of tumor cell apoptosis. HAMLET is a protein-lipid complex that is formed from α-lactalbumin when the protein changes its tertiary conformation and binds oleic acid as a cofactor. HAMLET induces apoptosis in a wide range of tumor cells in vitro, but the therapeutic effect in vivo has not been examined. In this study, invasively growing human GBM tumors were established in nude rats (Han:rnu/rnu Rowett, n = 20) by transplantation of human GBM biopsy spheroids. After 7 days, HAMLET was administered by intracerebral convection-enhanced delivery for 24 h into the tumor area; and α-lactalbumin, the native, folded variant of the same protein, was used as a control. HAMLET reduced the intracranial tumor volume and delayed the onset of pressure symptoms in the tumor-bearing rats. After 8 weeks, all α-lactalbumin-treated rats had developed pressure symptoms, but the HAMLET-treated rats remained asymptomatic. Magnetic resonance imaging scans revealed large differences in tumor volume (456 versus 63 mm3). HAMLET caused apoptosis in vivo in the tumor but not in adjacent intact brain tissue or in nontransformed human astrocytes, and no toxic side effects were observed. The results identify HAMLET as a new candidate in cancer therapy and suggest that HAMLET should be additionally explored as a novel approach to controlling GBM progression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2105-2112
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Research
Volume64
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2004
Externally publishedYes

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