AAV5-miHTT Gene Therapy Demonstrates Broad Distribution and Strong Human Mutant Huntingtin Lowering in a Huntington's Disease Minipig Model

Mol Ther. 2018 Sep 5;26(9):2163-2177. doi: 10.1016/j.ymthe.2018.06.021. Epub 2018 Jun 25.


Huntington's disease (HD) is a fatal neurodegenerative disorder caused by a CAG trinucleotide repeat expansion in the huntingtin gene. Previously, we showed strong huntingtin reduction and prevention of neuronal dysfunction in HD rodents using an engineered microRNA targeting human huntingtin, delivered via adeno-associated virus (AAV) serotype 5 vector with a transgene encoding an engineered miRNA against HTT mRNA (AAV5-miHTT). One of the challenges of rodents as a model of neurodegenerative diseases is their relatively small brain, making successful translation to the HD patient difficult. This is particularly relevant for gene therapy approaches, where distribution achieved upon local administration into the parenchyma is likely dependent on brain size and structure. Here, we aimed to demonstrate the translation of huntingtin-lowering gene therapy to a large-animal brain. We investigated the feasibility, efficacy, and tolerability of one-time intracranial administration of AAV5-miHTT in the transgenic HD (tgHD) minipig model. We detected widespread dose-dependent distribution of AAV5-miHTT throughout the tgHD minipig brain that correlated with the engineered microRNA expression. Both human mutant huntingtin mRNA and protein were significantly reduced in all brain regions transduced by AAV5-miHTT. The combination of widespread vector distribution and extensive huntingtin lowering observed with AAV5-miHTT supports the translation of a huntingtin-lowering gene therapy for HD from preclinical studies into the clinic.

Keywords: AAV; Huntington disease; gene silencing; microRNA; transgenic minipig.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Dependovirus / genetics
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Genetic Therapy / methods*
  • Genetic Vectors / genetics
  • Humans
  • Huntingtin Protein / genetics*
  • Huntingtin Protein / metabolism*
  • Huntington Disease / genetics
  • Huntington Disease / metabolism*
  • Huntington Disease / therapy*
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism
  • Swine
  • Swine, Miniature
  • Trinucleotide Repeat Expansion / genetics


  • Huntingtin Protein
  • MicroRNAs