Differential biodistribution of adenoviral vector in vivo as monitored by bioluminescence imaging and quantitative polymerase chain reaction

Hum Gene Ther. 2006 Dec;17(12):1262-9. doi: 10.1089/hum.2006.17.1262.


A better understanding of the in vivo biodistribution of adenoviral vectors would enable the researcher to anticipate potential side effects due to off-targeted site of transduction, and aid in the strategic design of gene therapy. We combined real-time polymerase chain reaction with in vivo optical imaging to examine viral transduction in liver, lung, spleen, kidney, prostate, and lymph nodes. A replication-deficient serotype 5 adenoviral vector expressing the firefly luciferase gene under the control of a constitutive cytomegalovirus promoter was administered in vivo via different routes. Intravenous and intraperitoneal injections resulted in greatest gene expression and viral DNA in the liver, whereas intraperitoneal injections led to a greater extent of gene delivery to the prostate. Although prostate-directed injection resulted in dominant gene expression in the targeted site, leakage of the vector to other organs was also observed. Vector injection into the lymphatic-rich paw tissue or the subcutaneous tissue of shoulder or chest followed the expected lymphatic drainage pattern, resulting in the accumulation of viral vector in ipsilateral brachial and axillary lymph nodes. Collectively, this study demonstrates that each tissue retains various amounts of adenoviral vector, depending on the route of administration. This knowledge is useful in the strategic design and implementation of adenovirus-mediated gene therapies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenoviridae / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA Primers / genetics
  • Gene Expression
  • Genetic Therapy / methods
  • Genetic Vectors*
  • Injections, Intraperitoneal
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Liver / virology
  • Luciferases, Firefly / genetics
  • Luminescent Measurements
  • Lymph Nodes / virology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, SCID
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Prostate / virology
  • Recombinant Proteins / genetics
  • Tissue Distribution


  • DNA Primers
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Luciferases, Firefly