Intrathecal injection of naked plasmid DNA provides long-term expression of secreted proteins

Travis S. Hughes, Stephen J. Langer, Kirk W. Johnson, Raymond A. Chavez, Linda R. Watkins, Erin D. Milligan, Leslie A. Leinwand

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28 Scopus citations


Therapeutic benefit has been reported to result from intrathecal (i.t.) injection of transgene vectors, including naked DNA. However, most studies using naked DNA have measured only the transgene expression of intracellular proteins. Here we demonstrate that i.t. injection of naked DNA can result in long-term expression of secreted proteins. Plasmids expressing either secreted alkaline phosphatase (SEAP) or human interleukin-10 (hIL-10) were injected into the i.t. space in rats, and transgene products were repeatedly measured in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Both SEAP and hIL-10 were maximal at 1 and 2 days after the injection and still detectable at 4 months. The utilization of a plasmid having two features that are hypothesized to increase gene expression (matrix attachment regions (MARs) and lack of CpG dinucleotides) resulted in a significant increase in gene expression. Reinjection of SEAP or hIL-10 plasmids after 4 months significantly increased protein levels at 1 and 14 days after the reinjection. SEAP was uniformly distributed between the DNA delivery site (∼vertebral level T13) and the lumbar puncture site (L5/L6 inter-vertebral space), was reduced at the cisterna magna, and was detectable, though at much lower levels, in serum. These data suggest that naked DNA has the potential to be used as a therapeutic tool for applications that require long-term release of transgenes into the CSF.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-94
Number of pages7
JournalMolecular Therapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009


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