Lentiviral gene delivery to CNS by spinal intrathecal administration to neonatal mice

J Gene Med. 2006 Apr;8(4):414-24. doi: 10.1002/jgm.861.


Background: Direct injection of lentivectors into the central nervous system (CNS) mostly results in localized parenchymal transgene expression. Intrathecal gene delivery into the spinal canal may produce a wider dissemination of the transgene and allow diffusion of secreted transgenic proteins throughout the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Herein, we analyze the distribution and expression of LacZ and SEAP transgenes following the intrathecal delivery of lentivectors into the spinal canal.

Methods: Four weeks after intrathecal injection into the spinal canal of newborn mice, the expression of the LacZ gene was assessed by histochemical staining and by in situ polymer chain reaction (PCR). Following the spinal infusion of a lentivector carrying the SEAP gene, levels of enzymatically active SEAP were measured in the CSF, blood serum, and in brain extracts.

Results: Intrathecal spinal canal delivery of lentivectors to newborn mice resulted in patchy, widely scattered areas of beta-gal expression mostly in the meninges. The transduction of the meningeal cells was confirmed by in situ PCR. Following the spinal infusion of a lentivector carrying the SEAP gene, sustained presence of the reporter protein was detected in the CSF, as well as in blood serum, and brain extracts.

Conclusions: These findings indicate that intrathecal injections of lentivectors can provide significant levels of transgene expression in the meninges. Unlike intracerebral injections of lentivectors, intrathecal gene delivery through the spinal canal appears to produce a wider diffusion of the transgene. This approach is less invasive and may be useful to address those neurological diseases that benefit from the ectopic expression of soluble factors impermeable to the blood-brain barrier.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Alkaline Phosphatase / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Injections, Spinal
  • Lentivirus / genetics*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Time Factors
  • Transduction, Genetic*
  • beta-Galactosidase / cerebrospinal fluid


  • Alkaline Phosphatase
  • beta-Galactosidase