In vivo imaging of gene transfer to the respiratory tract.

Griesenbach U, Meng C, Farley R, Cheng SH, Scheule RK, Davies MH, Wolstenholme-Hogg PC, ten Hove W, van der Hoeven P, Sinn PL, McCray PB Jr, Inoue M, Geddes DM, Hasegawa M, Frankel G, Wiles S, Alton EW

Biomaterials

Biomaterials. 2008 Apr;29(10):1533-40. Epub 2007 Dec 21.

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Imaging of in vivo gene expression using luciferase expression in various organs has been used for several years. In contrast to other organs, in vivo imaging of the lung, particularly after non-viral gene transfer has not been extensively studied. The aim of this study was to address several questions: (1) Does in vivo light emission correlate with standard tissue homogenate-based luciferase detection in a dose-dependent manner? Recombinant Sendai virus (SeV) transduces airway epithelial cells very efficiently and was used to address this question, (2) Is the sensitivity of the assay sufficient to detect non-viral gene transfer? We treated mice with SeV-Lux vector using our standard "sniffing" protocol, a method that predominantly results in lung deposition. Dose-related in vivo light emission was visible in all animals. Importantly, there was a significant correlation (r>0.90, p<0.0001) between the in vivo and ex vivo assays in both the left and right lung. We next transfected the nasal epithelium via nasal perfusion or the lungs ("sniffing") of mice with a luciferase plasmid (pCIKLux) complexed to the cationic lipid GL67 (n=25-27/group) and imaged luciferase expression in vivo 24h after transfection. Gene expression was detectable in both organs. Correlation between the in vivo and ex vivo assays was significant (r=0.52, p<0.005) in the left, but not the right lung. The correlation in the nose was weaker (r=0.45, p<0.05). To our knowledge these studies show for the first time that this non-invasive method of assessing pulmonary gene transfer is viable for evaluating non-viral gene transfer agents.

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