Scientific publications

IFN-alpha gene therapy for woodchuck hepatitis with adeno-associated virus: differences in duration of gene expression and antiviral activity using intraportal or intramuscular routes

Jul 1, 2005 | Magazine: Molecular Therapy

Berraondo P, Ochoa L, Crettaz J, Rotellar F, Vales A, Martínez-Ansó E, Zaratiegui M, Ruiz J, González-Aseguinolaza G, Prieto J.
Laboratory of Gene Therapy of Viral Hepatitis, Division of Hepatology and Gene Therapy, Clínica Universitaria/School of Medicine, Center for Applied Medical Research, University of Navarra, 31080 Pamplona, Navarra, Spain


Gene delivery of IFN-alpha to the liver may represent an interesting strategy to maximize its antiviral efficacy and reduce side effects. We used a recombinant adeno-associated virus (AAV) encoding woodchuck IFN-alpha (AAV-IFN) to treat animals with chronic woodchuck hepatitis virus infection.

The vector was given by intraportal or intramuscular route. Long-term transgene expression was detected after intraportal administration of an AAV encoding luciferase. In contrast, in the majority of the animals that received AAV-IFN through the portal vein, the expression of IFN-alpha was transient (30-40 days) and was associated with a significant but transient decrease in viral load. One animal, in which hepatic production of IFN-alpha persisted at high levels, died because of bone marrow toxicity. The disappearance of IFN-alpha expression correlated with the disappearance of AAV genomes from the liver. Intramuscular administration of AAV-IFN resulted in prolonged but fluctuating expression of the cytokine with no significant antiviral effect.

In summary, this report shows that long-term expression of IFN-alpha in muscle is feasible but higher interferon levels might be needed to control viral replication. On the other hand, IFN-alpha gene delivery to the liver using an AAV vector induces a significant but transient antiviral effect in the woodchuck model.

CITATION Mol Ther. 2005 Jul;12(1):68-76