Argininosuccinic aciduria (ASA) is the second most common genetic disorder affecting the urea cycle. The disease is caused by deleterious mutations in the gene encoding argininosuccinate lyase (ASL); total loss of ASL activity results in severe neonatal onset of the disease, which is characterized by hyperammonemia within a few days of birth that can rapidly progress to coma and death. The long-term complications of ASA, such as hypertension and neurocognitive deficits, appear to be resistant to the current treatment options of dietary restriction, arginine supplementation, and nitrogen scavenging drugs. Treatment-resistant disease is currently being managed by orthotopic liver transplant, which shows variable improvement and requires lifetime immunosuppression. Here, we developed a gene therapy strategy for ASA aimed at alleviating the symptoms associated with urea cycle disruption by providing stable expression of ASL protein in the liver. We designed a codon-optimized human ASL gene packaged within adeno-associated virus serotype 8 (AAV8) as a vector for targeted delivery to the liver. To evaluate the therapeutic efficacy of this approach, we utilized a murine hypomorphic model of ASA. Neonatal administration of AAV8 via the temporal facial vein extended survival in ASA hypomorphic mice, although not to wild-type levels. Intravenous injection into adolescent hypomorphic mice led to increased survival and body weight and correction of metabolites associated with the disease. Our results demonstrate that AAV8 gene therapy is a viable approach for the treatment of ASA.
Keywords: AAV; Argininosuccinic aciduria; Gene therapy; Liver; Urea cycle.
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