Release of replication-deficient retroviruses from a packaging cell line: Interaction with glioma tumor spheroids in vitro

Frits Thorsen*, Therese Visted, Paulina Lehtolainen, Seppo Ylä-Herttuala, Rolf Bjerkvig

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


The present study describes how various growth conditions affect gene expression and virus production from a retroviral packaging cell line (Liz 9), grown as monolayers and as multicellular spheroids. In addition, to study the direct interaction between packaging cells and tumor tissue of glioma origin, Liz 9 spheroids were confronted with tumor spheroids derived from a human glioma cell line, GaMg, The results show a progressive gene transfer into the tumor tissue, with 9% transfection efficacy after 5 days of co-culture. In comparison, no gene transfer was observed when the Liz 9 spheroids were confronted with normal brain-cell aggregates. The Liz 9 spheroids established from early-passage cultures (passages 7-14) showed limited growth during 28 days, whereas those initiated from late-passage monolayer cultures (passages 39-49) showed extensive growth. Flow-cytometric DNA profiles of monolayers and of spheroids indicated no difference in cell-cycle distribution or ploidy between early and late passages. A cell-viability assay using scanning confocal microscopy revealed mostly viable cells in the Liz 9 spheroids, with only a few dead cells scattered within the structures. The lacZ-gene expression was maintained in early- and in late-passage cultures, In comparison, in Liz 9 early-passage monolayers, the virus titer was 3.1 x 104 x 0.4 x 104 CFU/ml, whereas no virus titer was found in late-passage cultures. The virus titer from the Liz 9 spheroids was found to be between 103 and 104 CFU/ml. It is concluded that the virus production from packaging cells may vary, depending on passage number and tissue-culture conditions. In the present study, this is demonstrated by a complete loss in virus titer during prolonged culture of packaging cells, In addition, the 3-dimensional confrontation system described allows direct visualization of how packaging cells interact with tumor tissue. Thus, the co-culture system represents a model for studying the efficiency of packaging cells in transfecting heterogeneous tumor tissue in vitro.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)874-880
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


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