Transfer of Therapeutic Genes into Fetal Rhesus Monkeys Using Recombinant Adeno-Associated Type i Viral Vectors

Thomas J. Conlon, Cathryn S. Mah, Christina A. Pacak, Mary B. Rucker Henninger, Kirsten E. Erger, Marda L. Jorgensen, C. Chang I. Lee, Alice F. Tarantal, Barry J. Byrne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Neuromuscular disorders such as Pompe disease (glycogen storage disease, type II), result in early and potentially irreversible cellular damage with a very limited opportunity for intervention in the newborn period. Pompe disease is due to deficiency in acid α-glucosidase (GAA) leading to lysosomal accumulation of glycogen in all cell types, abnormal myofibrillogenesis, respiratory insufficiency, neurological deficits, and reduced contractile function in striated muscle. Previous studies have shown that fetal delivery of recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) encoding GAA to the peritoneal cavity of Gaa-/- mice resulted in high-level transduction of the diaphragm. While progression of other genetic disorders may occur later in life, the potential of fetal gene delivery to avoid the onset of irreversible damage suggests it is an attractive option for many inherited diseases. In this study, rhesus monkey fetuses were administered 4.5 × 1012 particles of rAAV type 1 expressing human GAA (rAAV1-CMV-hGAA), human α-1-antitrypsin (rAAV1-CBA-hAAT), or human mini-dystrophin (rAAV1-CMV-miniDMD) in the late first trimester using an established intraperitoneal ultrasound-guided approach. Fetuses were monitored sonographically and newborns delivered at term for postnatal studies. All animals remained healthy during the study period (growth, hematology, and clinical chemistry), with no evidence of adverse effects. Tissues were collected at a postnatal age of 3 months (~7 months post-fetal gene transfer) for immunohistochemistry (IHC) and quantitative PCR. Both the diaphragm and peritoneum from vector-treated animals were strongly positive for expression of human GAA, AAT, or dystrophin by IHC, similar to findings when reporter genes were used. Protein expression in the diaphragm and peritoneum correlated with high vector copy numbers detected by real-time PCR. Other anatomical areas were negative, although the liver showed minimal evidence of human GAA, AAT, and DMD, vector genomes. In summary, delivery of rAAV vectors provided stable transduction of the muscular component of the diaphragm without any evidence of adverse effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)152-159
Number of pages8
JournalHuman Gene Therapy Clinical Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright 2016, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. 2016.


  • AAV
  • Fetal gene transfer
  • Neuromuscular disorders
  • Pompe disease
  • Rhesus monkey


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