As both the immune system and the blood-brain barrier (BBB) are likely to be developmentally immature in the perinatal period, neonatal gene transfer may be useful for the treatment of lysosomal storage disease (LSD) with neurological involvements such as metachromatic leukodystrophy (MLD). In this experiment, we examined the feasibility of single-strand adeno-associated viral serotype-9 (ssAAV9)-mediated systemic neonatal gene therapy of MLD mice. ssAAV9 vector expressing human arylsulfatase A (ASA) and green fluorescent protein (GFP) (ssAAV9/ASA) was injected into the jugular vein of newborn MLD mice. High levels of ASA expression were observed in the muscle and heart for at least 15 months. ASA was continuously secreted into plasma without development of antibodies against ASA. Global gene transfer into the brain and spinal cord (SC), across the BBB, and long-term ASA expression in the central nervous system were detected in treated mice. Significant inhibition of the accumulation of sulfatide (Sulf) in the brain and cervical SC was confirmed by Alcian blue staining and biochemical analysis of the Sulf content. In a behavior test, treated mice showed a greater ability to traverse narrow balance beams than untreated mice. These data clearly demonstrate that MLD mice model can be effectively treated through neonatal systemic injection of ssAAV9/ASA.
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