Background: It has previously been shown that oxidants reduce the efficiency of adenoviral transduction in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). In this study, the effect of the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine (NAC) in adenovirus-mediated gene transfer has been investigated.
Methods: HUVECs were pretreated or not with NAC, and infected with E1E3-deleted adenovirus (Ad) containing the LacZ gene expressed from the RSV-LTR promoter/enhancer in the presence and absence of NAC. Transgene expression was assessed at the protein level (histochemical staining, measurement of beta-Gal activity, and western blot), mRNA level (real-time RT-PCR) and gene level (nuclear run on) 24 h and 48 h after infection. Adenoviral DNA was quantitated by real-time PCR, and cell surface expression of Coxsackie/adenovirus receptors (CAR) was determined by FACS analysis.
Results: Pretreatment of cells with NAC prior to Ad infection enhanced beta-Gal activity by two-fold due to an increase in viral DNA, which was related to increased CAR expression. When NAC was present only during the post-infection period, a five-fold increase in beta-Gal activity and LacZ gene transcriptional activity was observed. When NAC was present during both the pretreatment and the post-infection period, beta-Gal activity was further enhanced, by 15-fold. Augmentation of beta-Gal activity was paralleled by an increase in beta-Gal protein and mRNA levels. NAC did not affect the half-life of LacZ mRNA.
Conclusion: Pretreatment with NAC prior to Ad infection enhances virus entry, while treatment with NAC post-infection increases transgene transcription. This strategy permits the use of lower adenoviral loads and thus might be helpful for gene therapy of vascular diseases.
Copyright 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.