AAV-vector based gene therapy for mitochondrial disease: progress and future perspectives

Orphanet J Rare Dis. 2022 Jun 6;17(1):217. doi: 10.1186/s13023-022-02324-7.


Mitochondrial diseases are a group of rare, heterogeneous diseases caused by gene mutations in both nuclear and mitochondrial genomes that result in defects in mitochondrial function. They are responsible for significant morbidity and mortality as they affect multiple organ systems and particularly those with high energy-utilizing tissues, such as the nervous system, skeletal muscle, and cardiac muscle. Virtually no effective treatments exist for these patients, despite the urgent need. As the majority of these conditions are monogenic and caused by mutations in nuclear genes, gene replacement is a highly attractive therapeutic strategy. Adeno-associated virus (AAV) is a well-characterized gene replacement vector, and its safety profile and ability to transduce quiescent cells nominates it as a potential gene therapy vehicle for several mitochondrial diseases. Indeed, AAV vector-based gene replacement is currently being explored in clinical trials for one mitochondrial disease (Leber hereditary optic neuropathy) and preclinical studies have been published investigating this strategy in other mitochondrial diseases. This review summarizes the preclinical findings of AAV vector-based gene replacement therapy for mitochondrial diseases including Leigh syndrome, Barth syndrome, ethylmalonic encephalopathy, and others.

Keywords: AAV; Gene therapy; Mitochondrial disease.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Barth Syndrome* / genetics
  • Dependovirus / genetics
  • Genetic Therapy
  • Humans
  • Mitochondrial Diseases* / genetics
  • Mitochondrial Diseases* / therapy
  • Optic Atrophy, Hereditary, Leber*