Treatment of GM2 Gangliosidosis in Adult Sandhoff Mice Using an Intravenous Self-Complementary Hexosaminidase Vector

Curr Gene Ther. 2022;22(3):262-276. doi: 10.2174/1566523221666210916153051.


Background: GM2 gangliosidosis is a neurodegenerative, lysosomal storage disease caused by the deficiency of β-hexosaminidase A enzyme (Hex A), an α/β-subunit heterodimer. A novel variant of the human hexosaminidase α-subunit, coded by HEX M, has previously been shown to form a stable homodimer, Hex M, that hydrolyzes GM2 gangliosides (GM2) in vivo.

Materials & methods: The current study assessed the efficacy of intravenous (IV) delivery of a self-complementary adeno-associated virus serotype 9 (scAAV9) vector incorporating the HEXM transgene, scAAV9/HEXM, including the outcomes based on the dosages provided to the Sandhoff (SD) mice. Six-week-old SD mice were injected with either 2.5E+12 vector genomes (low dose, LD) or 1.0E+13 vg (high dose, HD). We hypothesized that when examining the dosage comparison for scAAV9/HEXM in adult SD mice, the HD group would have more beneficial outcomes than the LD cohort. Assessments included survival, behavioral outcomes, vector biodistribution, and enzyme activity within the central nervous system.

Results: Toxicity was observed in the HD cohort, with 8 of 14 mice dying within one month of the injection. As compared to untreated SD mice, which have typical survival of 16 weeks, the LD cohort and the remaining HD mice had a significant survival benefit with an average/median survival of 40.6/34.5 and 55.9/56.7 weeks, respectively. Significant behavioral, biochemical and molecular benefits were also observed. The second aim of the study was to investigate the effects of IV mannitol infusions on the biodistribution of the LD scAAV9/HEXM vector and the survival of the SD mice. Increases in both the biodistribution of the vector as well as the survival benefit (average/median of 41.6/49.3 weeks) were observed.

Conclusion: These results demonstrate the potential benefit and critical limitations of the treatment of GM2 gangliosidosis using IV delivered AAV vectors.

Keywords: AAV; GM2 ganglioside; GM2 gangliosidosis; Sandhoff; adeno-associated virus; gene therapy; hexosaminidase A; tay sachs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gangliosidoses, GM2*
  • Hexosaminidases
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Sandhoff Disease* / genetics
  • Sandhoff Disease* / therapy
  • Tissue Distribution
  • beta-N-Acetylhexosaminidases / genetics


  • Hexosaminidases
  • beta-N-Acetylhexosaminidases