AAV-based gene therapy prevents neuropathology and results in normal cognitive development in the hyperargininemic mouse

Gene Ther. 2013 Aug;20(8):785-96. doi: 10.1038/gt.2012.99. Epub 2013 Feb 7.


Complete arginase I deficiency is the least severe urea cycle disorder, characterized by hyperargininemia and infrequent episodes of hyperammonemia. Patients suffer from neurological impairment with cortical and pyramidal tract deterioration, spasticity, loss of ambulation and seizures, and is associated with intellectual disability. In mice, onset is heralded by weight loss beginning around day 15; gait instability follows progressing to inability to stand and development of tail tremor with seizure-like activity and death. Here we report that hyperargininemic mice treated neonatally with an adeno-associated virus (AAV)-expressing arginase and followed long-term lack any presentation consistent with brain dysfunction. Behavioral and histopathological evaluation demonstrated that treated mice are indistinguishable from littermates, and that putative compounds associated with neurotoxicity are diminished. In addition, treatment results in near complete resolution of metabolic abnormalities early in life; however, there is the development of some derangement later with decline in transgene expression. Ammonium challenging revealed that treated mice are affected by exogenous loading much greater than littermates. These results demonstrate that AAV-based therapy for hyperargininemia is effective and prevents development of neurological abnormalities and cognitive dysfunction in a mouse model of hyperargininemia; however, nitrogen challenging reveals that these mice remain impaired in the handling of waste nitrogen.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arginase / genetics*
  • Arginase / metabolism
  • Dependovirus
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Genetic Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Hyperammonemia / genetics
  • Hyperammonemia / pathology
  • Hyperammonemia / therapy
  • Hyperargininemia / genetics*
  • Hyperargininemia / pathology
  • Hyperargininemia / therapy
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Nervous System Diseases / genetics*
  • Nervous System Diseases / pathology
  • Nervous System Diseases / therapy
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / genetics*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / pathology
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / therapy


  • ARG1 protein, human
  • Arginase