Decorin, small leucine-rich proteoglycan, has been shown to modulate angiogenesis in nonocular tissues. This study tested a hypothesis that tissue-selective targeted decorin gene therapy delivered to the rabbit stroma with adeno-associated virus serotype 5 (AAV5) impedes corneal neovascularization (CNV) in vivo without significant side effects. An established rabbit CNV model was used. Targeted decorin gene therapy in the rabbit stroma was delivered with a single topical AAV5 titer (100 μl; 5x10^12 vg/ml) application onto the stroma for two minutes after removing corneal epithelium. The levels of CNV were examined with stereomicroscopy, H&E staining, lectin, collagen type IV, CD31 immunocytochemistry and CD31 immunoblotting. Real-time PCR quantified mRNA expression of pro- and anti-angiogenic genes. Corneal health in live animals was monitored with clinical, slit-lamp and optical coherence tomography biomicroscopic examinations. Selective decorin delivery into stroma showed significant 52% (p<0.05), 66% (p<0.001), and 63% (p<0.01) reduction at early (day 5), mid (day 10), and late (day 14) stages of CNV in decorin-delivered rabbit corneas compared to control (no decorin delivered) corneas in morphometric analysis. The H&E staining, lectin, collagen type IV, CD31 immunostaining (57–65, p<0.5), and CD31 immunoblotting (62–67%, p<0.05) supported morphometric findings. Quantitative PCR studies demonstrated decorin gene therapy down-regulated expression of VEGF, MCP1 and angiopoietin (pro-angiogenic) and up-regulated PEDF (anti-angiogenic) genes. The clinical, biomicroscopy and transmission electron microscopy studies revealed that AAV5– mediated decorin gene therapy is safe for the cornea. Tissue-targeted AAV5-mediated decorin gene therapy decreases CNV with no major side effects, and could potentially be used for treating patients.
Mohan RR, Tovey JCK, Sharma A, Schultz GS, Cowden JW, Tandon A. Targeted Decorin Gene Therapy Delivered with Adeno-Associated Virus Effectively Retards Corneal Neovascularization in vivo . Ulasov I, ed. PLoS ONE. 2011;6(10):e26432. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026432.
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