Suprachoroidal electrotransfer: a nonviral gene delivery method to transfect the choroid and the retina without detaching the retina

Mol Ther. 2012 Aug;20(8):1559-70. doi: 10.1038/mt.2011.304. Epub 2012 Jan 17.


Photoreceptors and retinal pigment epithelial cells (RPE) targeting remains challenging in ocular gene therapy. Viral gene transfer, the only method having reached clinical evaluation, still raises safety concerns when administered via subretinal injections. We have developed a novel transfection method in the adult rat, called suprachoroidal electrotransfer (ET), combining the administration of nonviral plasmid DNA into the suprachoroidal space with the application of an electrical field. Optimization of injection, electrical parameters and external electrodes geometry using a reporter plasmid, resulted in a large area of transfected tissues. Not only choroidal cells but also RPE, and potentially photoreceptors, were efficiently transduced for at least a month when using a cytomegalovirus (CMV) promoter. No ocular complications were recorded by angiographic, electroretinographic, and histological analyses, demonstrating that under selected conditions the procedure is devoid of side effects on the retina or the vasculature integrity. Moreover, a significant inhibition of laser induced-choroidal neovascularization (CNV) was achieved 15 days after transfection of a soluble vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-1 (sFlt-1)-encoding plasmid. This is the first nonviral gene transfer technique that is efficient for RPE targeting without inducing retinal detachment. This novel minimally invasive nonviral gene therapy method may open new prospects for human retinal therapies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Choroid / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Gene Transfer Techniques*
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Retina / metabolism*
  • Transfection / methods*