Potent spinal parenchymal AAV9-mediated gene delivery by subpial injection in adult rats and pigs.
ABSTRACT: Effective in vivo use of adeno-associated virus (AAV)-based vectors to achieve gene-specific silencing or upregulation in the central nervous system has been limited by the inability to provide more than limited deep parenchymal expression in adult animals using delivery routes with the most clinical relevance (intravenous or intrathecal). Here, we demonstrate that the spinal pia membrane represents the primary barrier limiting effective AAV9 penetration into the spinal parenchyma after intrathecal AAV9 delivery. We develop a novel subpial AAV9 delivery technique and AAV9-dextran formulation. We use these in adult rats and pigs to show (i) potent spinal parenchymal transgene expression in white and gray matter including neurons, glial and endothelial cells after single bolus subpial AAV9 delivery; (ii) delivery to almost all apparent descending motor axons throughout the length of the spinal cord after cervical or thoracic subpial AAV9 injection; (iii) potent retrograde transgene expression in brain motor centers (motor cortex and brain stem); and (iv) the relative safety of this approach by defining normal neurological function for up to 6 months after AAV9 delivery. Thus, subpial delivery of AAV9 enables gene-based therapies with a wide range of potential experimental and clinical utilizations in adult animals and human patients.
Project description:The identification of the most efficient method for whole central nervous system targeting that is translatable to humans and the safest route of adeno-associated virus (AAV) administration is a major concern for future applications in clinics. Additionally, as many AAV serotypes were identified for gene introduction into the brain and the spinal cord, another key to human gene-therapy success is to determine the most efficient serotype. In this study, we compared lumbar intrathecal administration through catheter implantation and intracerebroventricular administration in the cynomolgus macaque. We also evaluated and compared two AAV serotypes that are currently used in clinical trials: AAV9 and AAVrh10. We demonstrated that AAV9 lumbar intrathecal delivery using a catheter achieved consistent transgene expression in the motor neurons of the spinal cord and in the neurons/glial cells of several brain regions, whereas AAV9 intracerebroventricular delivery led to a consistent transgene expression in the brain. In contrast, AAVrh10 lumbar intrathecal delivery led to rare motor neuron targeting. Finally, we found that AAV9 efficiently targets respiratory and skeletal muscles after injection into the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which represents an outstanding new property that can be useful for the treatment of diseases affecting both the central nervous system and muscle.
Project description:A critical issue in transgene delivery studies is immune reactivity to the transgene- encoded protein and its impact on sustained gene expression. Here, we test the hypothesis that immunomodulation by rapamycin can decrease immune reactivity after intrathecal AAV9 delivery of a transgene (GFP) in non-human primates, resulting in sustained GFP expression in the CNS. We show that rapamycin treatment clearly reduced the overall immunogenicity of the AAV9/GFP vector by lowering GFP- and AAV9-specific antibody responses, and decreasing T cell responses including cytokine and cytolytic effector responses. Spinal cord GFP protein expression was sustained for twelve weeks, with no toxicity. Immune correlates of robust transgene expression include negligible GFP-specific CD4 and CD8 T cell responses, absence of GFP-specific IFN-? producing T cells, and absence of GFP-specific cytotoxic T cells, which support the hypothesis that decreased T cell reactivity results in sustained transgene expression. These data strongly support the use of modest doses of rapamycin to modulate immune responses for intrathecal gene therapies, and potentially a much wider range of viral vector-based therapeutics.
Project description:Neural precursor cells (NSCs) hold great potential to treat a variety of neurodegenerative diseases and injuries to the spinal cord. However, current delivery techniques require an invasive approach in which an injection needle is advanced into the spinal parenchyma to deliver cells of interest. As such, this approach is associated with an inherent risk of spinal injury, as well as a limited delivery of cells into multiple spinal segments. Here, we characterize the use of a novel cell delivery technique that employs single bolus cell injections into the spinal subpial space. In immunodeficient rats, two subpial injections of human NSCs were performed in the cervical and lumbar spinal cord, respectively. The survival, distribution, and phenotype of transplanted cells were assessed 6-8 months after injection. Immunofluorescence staining and mRNA sequencing analysis demonstrated a near-complete occupation of the spinal cord by injected cells, in which transplanted human NSCs (hNSCs) preferentially acquired glial phenotypes, expressing oligodendrocyte (Olig2, APC) or astrocyte (GFAP) markers. In the outermost layer of the spinal cord, injected hNSCs differentiated into glia limitans-forming astrocytes and expressed human-specific superoxide dismutase and laminin. All animals showed normal neurological function for the duration of the analysis. These data show that the subpial cell delivery technique is highly effective in populating the entire spinal cord with injected NSCs, and has a potential for clinical use in cell replacement therapies for the treatment of ALS, multiple sclerosis, or spinal cord injury.
Project description:Therapeutic gene delivery to the whole spinal cord is a major challenge for the treatment of motor neuron (MN) diseases. Systemic administration of viral gene vectors would provide an optimal means for the long-term delivery of therapeutic molecules from blood to the spinal cord but this approach is hindered by the presence of the blood-brain barrier (BBB). Here, we describe the first successful study of MN transduction in adult animals following intravenous (i.v.) delivery of self-complementary (sc) AAV9 vectors (up to 28% in mice). Intravenous MN transduction was achieved in adults without pharmacological disruption of the BBB and transgene expression lasted at least 5 months. Importantly, this finding was successfully translated to large animals, with the demonstration of an efficient systemic scAAV9 gene delivery to the neonate and adult cat spinal cord. This new and noninvasive procedure raises the hope of whole spinal cord correction of MN diseases and may lead to the development of new gene therapy protocols in patients.
Project description:Neurotropic adeno-associated virus (AAV) serotypes such as AAV9 have been demonstrated to transduce spinal alpha motor neurons when administered intravenously (i.v.) at high doses. This observation led to the recent successful application of i.v. AAV9 delivery to treat infants with spinal muscular atrophy, an inherited deficiency of the survival of motor neuron (SMN) protein characterized by selective death of lower motor neurons. To evaluate the efficiency of motor neuron transduction with an AAV9 variant (AAVhu68) using this approach, three juvenile nonhuman primates (NHPs; aged 14 months) and three piglets (aged 7-30 days) were treated with an i.v. injection of an AAVhu68 vector carrying a human SMN transgene at a dose similar to that employed in the spinal muscular atrophy clinical trial. Administration of 2 × 1014 genome copies per kilogram of body weight resulted in widespread transduction of spinal motor neurons in both species. However, severe toxicity occurred in both NHPs and piglets. All three NHPs exhibited marked transaminase elevations. In two NHPs, the transaminase elevations resolved without clinical sequelae, while one NHP developed acute liver failure and shock and was euthanized 4 days after vector injection. Degeneration of dorsal root ganglia sensory neurons was also observed, although NHPs exhibited no clinically apparent sensory deficits. There was no correlation between clinical findings and T-cell responses to the vector capsid or transgene product in NHPs. Piglets demonstrated no evidence of hepatic toxicity, but within 14 days of vector injection, all three animals exhibited proprioceptive deficits and ataxia, which profoundly impaired ambulation and necessitated euthanasia. These clinical findings correlated with more severe dorsal root ganglia sensory neuron lesions than those observed in NHPs. The liver and sensory neuron findings appear to be a direct consequence of AAV transduction independent of an immune response to the capsid or transgene product. The present results and those of another recent study utilizing a different AAV9 variant and transgene indicate that systemic and sensory neuron toxicity may be general properties of i.v. delivery of AAV vectors at high doses, irrespective of the capsid serotype or transgene. Preclinical and clinical studies involving high systemic doses of AAV vectors should include careful monitoring for similar toxicities.
Project description:Many studies have demonstrated that adeno-associated virus serotype 9 (AAV9) transduces astrocytes and neurons when infused into rat or nonhuman primate (NHP) brain. We previously showed in rats that transduction of antigen-presenting cells (APC) by AAV9 encoding a foreign protein triggered a full neurotoxic immune response. Accordingly, we asked whether this phenomenon occurred in NHP. We performed parenchymal or intrathecal infusion of AAV9 encoding green fluorescent protein (GFP), a non-self protein derived from jellyfish, or human aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase (hAADC), a self-protein, in separate NHP. Animals receiving AAV9-GFP into cisterna magna (CM) became ataxic, indicating cerebellar pathology, whereas AAV9-hAADC animals remained healthy. In transduced regions, AAV9-GFP elicited inflammation associated with early activation of astrocytic and microglial cells, along with upregulation of major histocompatibility complex class II (MHC-II) in glia. In addition, we found Purkinje neurons lacking calbindin after AAV9-GFP but not after AAV9-hAADC delivery. Our results demonstrate that AAV9-mediated expression of a foreign-protein, but not self-recognized protein, triggers complete immune responses in NHP regardless of the route of administration. Our results warrant caution when contemplating use of serotypes that can transduce APC if the transgene is not syngeneic with the host. This finding has the potential to complicate preclinical toxicology studies in which such vectors encoding human cDNA's are tested in animals.
Project description:Adeno-associated virus type 9 (AAV9) is a powerful tool for delivering genes throughout the central nervous system (CNS) following intravenous injection. Preclinical results in pediatric models of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and lysosomal storage disorders provide a compelling case for advancing AAV9 to the clinic. An important translational step is to demonstrate efficient CNS targeting in large animals at various ages. In the present study, we tested systemically injected AAV9 in cynomolgus macaques, administered at birth through 3 years of age for targeting CNS and peripheral tissues. We show that AAV9 was efficient at crossing the blood-brain barrier (BBB) at all time points investigated. Transgene expression was detected primarily in glial cells throughout the brain, dorsal root ganglia neurons and motor neurons within the spinal cord, providing confidence for translation to SMA patients. Systemic injection also efficiently targeted skeletal muscle and peripheral organs. To specifically target the CNS, we explored AAV9 delivery to cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). CSF injection efficiently targeted motor neurons, and restricted gene expression to the CNS, providing an alternate delivery route and potentially lower manufacturing requirements for older, larger patients. Our findings support the use of AAV9 for gene transfer to the CNS for disorders in pediatric populations.
Project description:Injection of adeno-associated virus (AAV) into the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) offers a means to achieve widespread transgene delivery to the central nervous system, where the doses can be readily translated from small to large animals. In contrast to studies with other serotypes (AAV2, AAV4 and AAV5) in rodents, we report that a naturally occurring capsid (AAV9) and rationally engineered capsid (AAV2.5) are able to achieve broad transduction throughout the brain and spinal cord parenchyma following a single injection into the CSF (via cisterna magna or lumbar cistern) in non-human primates (NHP). Using either vector at a dose of ?2 × 10(12) vector genome (vg) per 3-6 kg animal, approximately 2% of the entire brain and spinal cord was transduced, covering all regions of the central nervous system (CNS). AAV9 in particular displayed efficient transduction of spinal cord motor neurons. The peripheral organ biodistribution was highly reduced compared with intravascular delivery, and the presence of circulating anti-AAV-neutralizing antibodies up to a 1:128 titer had no inhibitory effect on CNS gene transfer. Intra-CSF delivery effectively translates from rodents to NHPs, which provides encouragement for the use of this approach in humans to treat motor neuron and lysosomal storage diseases.
Project description:Gene therapy for neuropathic pain requires efficient gene delivery to both central and peripheral nervous systems. We previously showed that an adenoassociated virus serotype 9 (AAV9) vector expressing short-hairpin RNA (shRNA) could suppress target molecule expression in the dorsal root ganglia (DRG) and spinal cord upon intrathecal injection. To evaluate the therapeutic potential of this approach, we constructed an AAV9 vector encoding shRNA against vanilloid receptor 1 (TRPV1), which is an important target gene for acute pain, but its role in chronic neuropathic pain remains unclear. We intrathecally injected it into the subarachnoid space at the upper lumbar spine of mice 3 weeks after spared nerve injury (SNI). Delivered shTRPV1 effectively suppressed mRNA and protein expression of TRPV1 in the DRG and spinal cord, and it attenuated nerve injury-induced thermal allodynia 10-28 days after treatment. Our study provides important evidence for the contribution of TRPV1 to thermal hypersensitivity in neuropathic pain and thus establishes intrathecal AAV9-mediated gene delivery as an investigative and potentially therapeutic platform for the nervous system.
Project description:The present study builds on previous work showing that infusion of adeno-associated virus type 9 (AAV9) into the cisterna magna (CM) of nonhuman primates resulted in widespread transduction throughout cortex and spinal cord. Transduction efficiency was severely limited, however, by the presence of circulating anti-AAV antibodies. Accordingly, we compared AAV9 to a related serotype, AAV7, which has a high capsid homology. CM infusion of either AAV7 or AAV9 directed high level of cell transduction with similar patterns of distribution throughout brain cortex and along the spinal cord. Dorsal root ganglia and corticospinal tracts were also transduced. Both astrocytes and neurons were transduced. Interestingly, little transduction was observed in peripheral organs. Our results indicate that intrathecal delivery of either AAV7 or AAV9 directs a robust and widespread cellular transduction in the central nervous system and other peripheral neural structures.