Background: Efficient methods of introducing genes into myocardial cells must be developed before local somatic cell gene therapy can be implemented against myocardial disease. Although adenoviral (Ad5) vectors have been used to target rodent hearts and plasmid DNA has been directly injected into the myocardium of rats and dogs, the amounts of recombinant protein produced by these procedures have not been reported, and adenoviral vectors have not been used in large mammalian hearts. Methods and Results: Replication-deficient recombinant adenoviral vectors carrying either the luciferase or lacZ reporter genes were injected directly into the ventricular myocardium of adult domestic swine for evaluation of reporter gene expression. This procedure did not affect regional myocardial function as assessed by systolic wall thickening using ultrasonic crystals. Luciferase activity was detected 3 days after injection, increased markedly at 7 days, and then declined progressively at 14 and 21 days. Luciferase production was comparable in the right and left ventricular walls and increased with increasing amounts of virus, reaching 61±21 ng at the highest dose examined (3.6 x 109 plaque- forming units). The injection of 200 μg of plasmid DNA (pRSVL) produced levels of luciferase comparable to 1.8 x 108 plaque-forming units of recombinant Ad5; however, when normalized to the number of genes injected, the adenovirus was 140 000 times more efficient than plasmid DNA. Histochemical analysis of β-galactosidase activity produced by a second Ad5 vector demonstrated that nearly all (>95%) of the stained cells were cardiomyocytes and that the percentage of cardiomyocytes infected by the virus could be quite high in microscopic regions adjacent to the needle track (up to 75% in fields of 60 to 70 cells); however, Ad5-infected cells were rarely observed farther than 5 mm from the injection site. Furthermore, the Ad5 vector induced pronounced leukocytic infiltration that was far in excess of that seen after injection of vehicle alone. Conclusions: This study demonstrates for the first time that direct intramyocardial injection of replication-deficient adenovirus can program recombinant gene expression in the cardiomyocytes of a large animal species with relevance to human physiology. The efficiency of adenovirus-mediated gene transfer is far superior to that of plasmid DNA injection, and this method appears to be capable of producing more recombinant protein. However, the cell-mediated immune response to the Ad5 vector and the limited distribution of reporter gene expression suggest that less immunogenic recombinant vectors and more homogeneous administration methods will be required before Ad5 vectors can be successfully used for phenotypic modulation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Physiology (medical)