Gene therapy of galactocerebrosidase (GALC) deficient mice (Twitcher mutants) requires a fast and sensitive assay to detect transduced cells in vitro and in vivo. We have developed a new rapid histochemical method that specifically detects GALC activity in situ in neural cells using 5-Br-3Cl-β-galactopiranoside (X-Gal) in the presence of taurodeoxycholic and oleic acids to enhance suspension of the substrate at low pH. Using this method, we observed robust X-Gal staining in diverse neuronal populations and interfascicular oligodendrocytes in sections from normal mouse brain. In contrast, sections of Twitcher brain did not show a specific staining pattern in neurons or glial cells. The availability of this new sensitive and rapid in situ detection assay is fundamental for the follow-up of Twitcher mice under gene or cellular therapies to correct central GALC deficiency.
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