Helper-dependent adenovirus for the gene therapy of proliferative retinopathies: Stable gene transfer, regulated gene expression and therapeutic efficacy

Stefania Lamartina, Monica Cimino, Giuseppe Roscilli, Ernesta Dammassa, Domenico Lazzaro, Rossella Rota, Gennaro Ciliberto, Carlo Toniatti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Ocular neovascular disorders, such as diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration, are the principal causes of blindness in developed countries. Current treatments are of limited efficacy, whereas a therapy based on intraocular gene transfer of angiostatic factors represents a promising alternative. For the first time we have explored the potential of helper-dependent adenovirus (HD-Ad), the last generation of Ad vectors, in the therapy of retinal neovascularization. Methods: We first analyzed efficiency and stability of intraretinal gene transfer following intravitreous injection in mice. A HD-Ad vector expressing green fluorescent protein (GFP) under the control of the cytomegalovirus (CMV) promoter (HD-Ad/GFP) was compared with a first-generation (E1/E3-deleted) Ad vector carrying an identical GFP expression cassette (FG-Ad/GFP). We also constructed HD-Ad vectors expressing a soluble form of the VEGF receptor (sFlt-1) in a constitutive (HD-Ad/sFlt-1) or doxycycline (dox)-inducible (HD-Ad/S-M2/ sFlt-1) manner and tested their therapeutic efficacy upon intravitreous delivery in a rat model of oxygen-induced retinopathy (OIR). Results: HD-Ad/GFP promoted long-lasting (up to 1 year) transgene expression in retinal Müller cells, in marked contrast with the short-term expression observed with FG-Ad/GFP. Intravitreous injection of HD-Ad vectors expressing sFlt-1 resulted in detectable levels of sFlt-1 and inhibited retinal neovascularization by more than 60% in a rat model of OIR. Notably, the therapeutic efficacy of the inducible vector HD-Ad/S-M2/sFlt-1 was strictly dox-dependent. Conclusions: HD-Ad vectors enable stable gene transfer and regulated expression of angiostatic factors following intravitreous injection and thus are attractive vehicles for the gene therapy of neovascular diseases of the retina.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)862-874
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Gene Medicine
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2007


  • Helper-dependent Adenovirus
  • Retinopathy
  • sFlt-1
  • Transcriptional regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


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