Background: Intrathecal (IT) gene transfer is an attractive approach for targeting spinal mechanisms of nociception but the duration of gene expression achieved by reported methods is short (up to two weeks) impairing their utility in the chronic pain setting. The overall goal of this study was to develop IT gene transfer yielding true long-term transgene expression defined as ≥ 3 mo following a single vector administration. We defined "IT" administration as atraumatic injection into the lumbar cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) modeling a lumbar puncture. Our studies focused on recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV), one of the most promising vector types for clinical use. Results: Conventional single stranded rAAV2 vectors performed poorly after IT delivery in rats. Pseudotyping of rAAV with capsids of serotypes 1, 3, and 5 was tested alone or in combination with a modification of the inverted terminal repeat. The former alters vector tropism and the latter allows packaging of self-complementary rAAV (sc-rAAV) vectors. Combining both types of modification led to the identification of sc-rAAV2/1 as a vector that performed superiorly in the IT space. IT delivery of 3 × 10e9 sc-rAAV2/1 particles per animal led to stable expression of enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) for ≥ 3 mo detectable by Western blotting, quantitative PCR, and in a blinded study by confocal microscopy. Expression was strongest in the cauda equina and the lower sections of the spinal cord and only minimal in the forebrain. Microscopic examination of the SC fixed in situ with intact nerve roots and meninges revealed strong EGFP fluorescence in the nerve roots. Conclusion: sc-rAAVI mediates stable IT transgene expression for ≥ 3 mo. Our findings support the underlying hypothesis that IT target cells for gene transfer lack the machinery for efficient conversion of the single-stranded rAAV genome into double-stranded DNA and favor uptake of serotype 1 vectors over 2. Experiments presented here will provide a rational basis for utilizing IT rAAV gene transfer in basic and translational studies on chronic pain.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Medicine
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine