Clostridium perfringens enterotoxin as a novel-targeted therapeutic for brain metastasis

Scott L. Kominsky, Betty Tyler, Jeffrey Sosnowski, Kelly Brady, Michele Doucet, Delissa Nell, James G. Smedley, Bruce McClane, Henry Brem, Saraswati Sukumar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Brain metastasis is the most commonly occurring intracranial tumor whose incidence seems to be increasing. With standard therapy, the average survival time of patients is ≃8 months, and treatment often leads to neurologic dysfunction in longterm survivors, emphasizing the need for novel therapeutics. Clostridium perfringens enterotoxin (CPE) has recently been shown to rapidly and specifically destroy cancer cells expressing CPE receptors claudin-3 and claudin-4. Unfortunately, the utility of CPE is precluded by systemic toxicity because its receptors are expressed in numerous organs. Here, we provide the first preclinical evidence that CPE may be uniquely suited to the local treatment of brain metastasis. By immunohistochemical analysis, claudin-3 and claudin-4 were expressed frequently in metastases from breast (15 of 18), lung (15 of 20), and colon (12 of 14) carcinoma, and infrequently in metastases from renal cell carcinoma (2 of 16) and melanoma (2 of 16). In contrast, expression of claudin-3 and claudin-4 was absent in adjacent normal brain tissue. Further examination of the central nervous system (CNS) revealed low or undetectable levels of claudin-3 and claudin-4 in all regions tested by Western and immunohistochemical analysis. Treatment of breast cancer cell lines (MCF-7, MDA-MB-468, NT2.5-luc) and normal human astrocytes with CPE in vitro resulted in rapid and dose-dependent cytolysis exclusively in breast cancer cells, correlating with claudin-3 and claudin-4 expression. Moreover, intracranial CPE treatment significantly inhibited tumor growth and increased survival in two murine models of breast cancer brain metastasis, without any apparent local or systemic toxicity. These data suggest that CPE therapy may have efficacy against a wide variety of brain metastases without CNS toxicity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7977-7982
Number of pages6
JournalCancer Research
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 1 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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