Recombinant AAV-mediated gene delivery to the central nervous system

J Gene Med. 2004 Feb:6 Suppl 1:S212-22. doi: 10.1002/jgm.506.


Various regions of the brain have been successfully transduced by recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) vectors with no detected toxicity. When using the cytomegalovirus immediate early (CMV) promoter, a gradual decline in the number of transduced cells has been described. In contrast, the use of cellular promoters such as the neuron-specific enolase promoter or hybrid promoters such as the chicken beta-actin/CMV promoter resulted in sustained transgene expression. The cellular tropism of rAAV-mediated gene transfer in the central nervous system (CNS) varies depending on the serotype used. Serotype 2 vectors preferentially transduce neurons whereas rAAV5 and rAAV1 transduce both neurons and glial cells. Recombinant AAV4-mediated gene transfer was inefficient in neurons and glial cells of the striatum (the only structure tested so far) but efficient in ependymal cells. No inflammatory response has been described following rAAV2 administration to the brain. In contrast, antibodies to AAV2 capsid and transgene product were elicited but no reduction of transgene expression was observed and readministration of vector without loss of efficiency was possible from 3 months after the first injection. Based on the success of pioneer work performed with marker genes, various strategies for therapeutic gene delivery were designed. These include enzyme replacement in lysosomal storage diseases, Canavan disease and Parkinson's disease; delivery of neuroprotective factors in Parkinson's disease, Huntington disease, Alzheimer's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, ischemia and spinal cord injury; as well as modulation of neurotransmission in epilepsy and Parkinson's disease. Several of these strategies have demonstrated promising results in relevant animal models. However, their implementation in the clinics will probably require a tight regulation and a specific targeting of therapeutic gene expression which still demands further developments of the vectors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Dependovirus*
  • Enzymes / genetics
  • Enzymes / metabolism
  • Genetic Engineering
  • Genetic Vectors*
  • Nervous System Diseases / drug therapy
  • Transduction, Genetic*
  • Transgenes


  • Enzymes