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The interplay between oncolytic virus infection and tumour hypoxia is particularly unexplored in vivo, although hypoxia is present in virtually all solid carcinomas. In this study, oncolytic adenovirus infection foci were found within pimonidazole-reactive, oxygen-poor areas in a colorectal xenograft tumour, where the expression of VEGF, a target gene of the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF), was attenuated. We hypothesised that adenovirus infection interferes with the HIF-signalling axis in the hypoxic tumour niche, possibly modifying the local vascular supply. In vitro, enadenotucirev (EnAd), adenovirus 11p and adenovirus 5 decreased the protein expression of HIF-1α only during the late phase of the viral life cycle by transcriptional down-regulation and not post-translational regulation. The decreasing HIF levels resulted in the down-regulation of angiogenic factors such as VEGF, coinciding with reduced endothelial tube formation but also increased T-cell activation in conditioned media transfer experiments. Using intravital microscopy, a decreased perfused vessel volume was observed in infected tumour nodules upon systemic delivery of EnAd, encoding the oxygen-independent fluorescent reporter UnaG to a tumour xenograft grown under an abdominal window chamber. We conclude that the attenuation of the HIF pathway upon adenoviral infection may contribute to anti-vascular and immunostimulatory effects in the periphery of established infection foci in vivo.

Original publication




Journal article


Cancers (Basel)

Publication Date





HIF, UnaG, adenovirus, angiogenesis, enadenotucirev, hypoxia, intravital imaging, oncolytic, tumor microenvironment, two-photon microscopy