UNC Gene Therapy Center, Department of PsychiatryUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Theme 3: Gene Therapy
Cite this article as:
McCown, T.J. Neurotherapeutics (2009) 6: 307. doi:10.1016/j.nurt.2009.01.004
Theoretically, gene therapy techniques offer an attractive alternative treatment option for intractable, focal epilepsies. Although logical gene therapy targets include excitatory and inhibitory receptors, variable viral vector tropism interjects an uncertainty as to the direction of change, seizure suppression, or seizure sensitization. To circumvent this therapeutic liability, adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors have been constructed where the gene product is constitutively secreted from the transduced cell. Using AAV vectors, the fibronectin secretory signal sequence (FIB) was placed in front of the coding sequence for green fluorescent protein or the active portion of the neuroactive peptide galanin (GAL). Subsequent studies showed that these vectors supported expression and constitutive secretion of these gene products from transfected cells in vitro. More importantly, upon transduction in vivo, AAV-FIB-GAL vectors significantly attenuated focal seizure sensitivity, and this seizure attenuation could be controlled in vivo by using a tetracyclineregulated promoter. The expression and constitutive secretion of green fluorescent protein, or the expression of GAL alone, exerted no effect on focal seizure sensitivity. Moreover, unilateral infusion of the AAV-FIB-GAL vectors into the hippocampus prevented kainic acid-induced hilar cell death. With regard to limbic seizures, bilateral infusion of AAV-FIB-GAL vectors into the piriform cortex prevented both behavioral and localized electrographic seizure activity after the peripheral administration of kainic acid. Also, when rats were electrically kindled to class V seizure activity, subsequent infusion of AAV-FIB-GAL proved capable of significantly elevating the seizure initiation threshold. Thus, these studies clearly demonstrate the anti-seizure effectiveness of AAV vector-mediated expression and constitutive secretion of galanin.