Cellular tropism and transduction properties of seven adeno-associated viral vector serotypes in adult retina after intravitreal injection

Gene Ther. 2009 Apr;16(4):521-32. doi: 10.1038/gt.2008.178. Epub 2008 Dec 18.


Recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) vectors are increasingly being used as tools for gene therapy, and clinical trials have begun in patients with genetically linked retinal disorders. Intravitreal injection is optimal for the transduction of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), although complete selectivity has not been achieved. There may also be advantages in using intravitreal approaches for the transduction of photoreceptors. Here we compared the cellular tropism and transduction efficiency of rAAV2/1, -2/2, -2/3, -2/4, -2/5, -2/6 and -2/8 in adult rat retina after intravitreal injection. Each vector encoded green fluorescent protein (GFP), and the number, laminar distribution and morphology of transduced GFP(+) cells were determined using fluorescent microscopy. Assessment of transduced cell phenotype was based on cell morphology and immunohistochemistry. rAAV2/2 and rAAV2/6 transduced the greatest number of cells, whereas rAAV2/5 and rAAV2/8 were least efficient. Most vectors primarily transduced RGCs; however, rAAV2/6 had a more diverse tropism profile, with 46% identified as amacrine or bipolar cells, 23% as RGCs and 22% as Müller cells. Müller cells were also frequently transduced by rAAV2/4. The highest photoreceptor transduction was seen after intravitreal rAAV2/3 injection. These data facilitate the design and selection of rAAV vectors to target specific retinal cells, potentially leading to an improved gene therapy for various human retinal pathologies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dependovirus / classification
  • Dependovirus / genetics*
  • Dependovirus / physiology
  • Female
  • Genetic Vectors / administration & dosage*
  • Injections, Intraocular
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Retina / metabolism*
  • Retina / virology
  • Serotyping
  • Transduction, Genetic*
  • Viral Tropism
  • Vitreous Body