Conjugation of polyethylene glycol to protein or particles (PEGylation) prolongs their plasma half-lives and promotes their accumulation in tumors due to enhanced permeability and retention (EPR) effect. Although PEGylation of adenovirus vectors (Ads) is an attractive strategy to improve the in vivo kinetics of conventional Ads, the EPR effect of PEGylated Ad (PEG-Ad) had not previously been reported. In this study, we prepared PEG-Ads with PEG at various modification ratios, injected them intravenously into tumor-bearing mice, and determined the blood kinetics, viral distribution, and gene expression patterns, respectively. In addition, we conducted a cancer therapeutic study of PEG-Ad encoding tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α. The plasma half-life of PEG-Ad was longer than that of unmodified-Ad, and accumulation of PEG-Ad in tumor tissue increased as the PEG modification ratio increased. In particular, PEG-Ad with about 90% modification ratio showed higher (35 times) gene expression in tumor and lower (6%) in liver, compared with values for unmodified Ad. Moreover, PEG-Ad encoding TNF-α demonstrated not only stronger tumor-suppressive activity but also fewer hepatotoxic side effects compared with unmodified-Ad. PEGylation of Ad achieved tumor targeting through the EPR effect, and these attributes suggest that systemic injection of PEG-Ad has great potential as an anti-tumor treatment. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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