Macrophage Gene Therapy of Neurodegenerative Diseases

Project: Research project

Project Details


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Neurodegenerative diseases affect a large population of patients. Existing therapies are not satisfactory. Gene therapy holds promise, but focal delivery of DNA and the level of gene expression are challenging. Macrophages are recruited from bone marrow to most tissues of the body including the CNS, thus making them an attractive option for gene delivery. Galactosialidosis (GS) has been corrected by bone marrow-derived macrophages expressing human protective protein/cathepsin A (PPCA) transgene in a mouse model (PPCA-/-). However, correction in the CNS was incomplete due in part to weakness of the CSF-1R promoter used in the study. We have developed a series of super macrophage promoters (SMP) that are up to l00-fold stronger in vitro than the CSF-1R promoter. In models of the highly prevalent Parkinson's disease (PD), local delivery of glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) has been found beneficial. We hypothesize that highly effective CNS delivery of GDNF can be achieved with the use of our super macrophage promoters and this will greatly ameliorate the pathologic changes and neurological defects in animal models of PD. To explore this hypothesis, our specific aims are: 1) To characterize these super macrophage promoters by transplantation of bone marrow stem cells transduced ex vivo with lentiviral vectors and in transgenic mice using EGFP (enhanced green fluorescent protein) as a reporter. Promoters with the greatest strength and tissue-specificity for macrophages will be used in the subsequent aims. 2) To ameliorate neurodegeneration in the MPTP (1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine) mouse model of Parkinson's disease by syngeneic transplantation of HSC transduced ex vivo with lentivectors expressing GDNF gene in macrophages/macroglia driven by the SMP. Bone marrow stem cells will be transduced ex vivo with GDNF expressing lentivirus and transplanted into lethally irradiated recipient mice. Four weeks after bone marrow transplantation, the recipient mice will be injected subcutaneously with MPTP. At selected time points post MPTP administration, PET scan and behavioral testing will be performed, and brain tissue will be examined for dopamine uptake and expression of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH). In the substantia nigra pars compacta (SN), dopaminergic neurons will be counted and cell apoptosis will be assessed by TUNEL staining and immunohistochemistry for active easpase-3. 3) To ameliorate neurodegeneration in the same way as in Aim 2, but GDNF expression will be controlled by a tetracycline-regulatable gene expression system. To evaluate the effects of macrophage/ super promoter-mediated delivery and expression of GDNF on degenerating nigrostriatal neurons in the MPTP model of PD, we will initiate GDNF expression by tetracycline withdrawal before and at various times (1, 4, 8, 14, 28 days) after MPTP administration. Again, at specific time points post MPTP treatment and initiation of GDNF expression, GDNF effects on dopaminergic neuroprotection, restoration, and functional enhancement will be examined as in Specific Aim 2. These studies will serve as a basis for developing vectors for potential use in patients with neurodegenerative diseases.
Effective start/end date7/15/046/30/10


  • National Institutes of Health: $256,104.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $270,100.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $263,753.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $270,100.00


  • Medicine(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)


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