Research Article

A Hypoxia-Regulated Retinal Pigment Epithelium-Specific Gene Therapy Vector Reduces Choroidal Neovascularization in a Mouse Model

Author(s): Yun Yuan*, Wen Kong, Xiao-Mei Liu and Guo-Hua Shi

Volume 22, Issue 5, 2022

Published on: 29 April, 2022

Page: [417 - 426] Pages: 10

DOI: 10.2174/1566523222666220405135135

Price: $65


Background: Wet age-related macular degeneration (wAMD) is characterized by the presence of choroidal neovascularization (CNV). Although there are some clinical drugs targeting vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and inhibiting CNV, two major side effects limit their application, including the excessive activity of anti-VEGF and frequent intraocular injections. To explore better treatment strategies, researchers developed a hypoxic modulator retinal pigment epithelium (RPE)- specific adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector expressing endostatin to inhibit CNV. However, the mechanism of endostatin is complex. Instead, soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1 (sFlt-1) can inhibit VEGF-induced angiogenesis through two simple and clear mechanisms, giving rise to sequestration of VEGF and forming an inactive heterodimer with the membrane-spanning isoforms of the VEGF receptor Flt-1 and kinase insert domain-containing receptor.

Objective: In this study, we chose sFlt-1 as a safer substitute to treat wAMD by inhibiting VEGFinduced angiogenesis.

Methods: The AAV2/8-Y733F-REG-RPE-sFlt-1 vector was delivered by intravitreal injection to the eyes of mice. AAV2/8-Y733F vector is a mutant of the AAV2/8 vector, and the REG-RPE promoter is a hypoxia-regulated RPE-specific promoter. Two animal models were used to evaluate the function of the vector.

Results: In the cobalt chloride-induced hypoxia model, the results demonstrated that the AAV2/8- Y733F-REG-RPE-sFlt-1 vector induced the expression of the sFlt-1 gene in RPE cells through hypoxia. In the laser-induced CNV model, the results demonstrated that the AAV2/8-Y733F-REG-RPE-sFlt- 1 vector reduced laser-induced CNV.

Conclusion: Hypoxia regulated, RPE-specific AAV vector-mediated sFlt-1 gene is a hypoxiaregulated antiangiogenic vector for wAMD.

Keywords: Age-related macular degeneration, choroidal neovascularization, hypoxia responsive elements, soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1, adeno-associated virus vector, gene therapy.

Graphical Abstract
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