Incisionless targeted adeno-associated viral vector delivery to the brain by focused ultrasound-mediated intranasal administration

EBioMedicine. 2022 Oct;84:104277. doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2022.104277. Epub 2022 Sep 21.


Background: Adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors are currently the leading platform for gene therapy with the potential to treat a variety of central nervous system (CNS) diseases. There are numerous methods for delivering AAVs to the CNS, such as direct intracranial injection (DI), intranasal delivery (IN), and intravenous injection with focused ultrasound-induced blood-brain barrier disruption (FUS-BBBD). However, non-invasive and efficient delivery of AAVs to the brain with minimal systemic toxicity remain the major challenge. This study aims to investigate the potential of focused ultrasound-mediated intranasal delivery (FUSIN) in AAV delivery to brain.

Methods: Mice were intranasally administered with AAV5 encoding enhanced green fluorescence protein (AAV5-EGFP) followed by FUS sonication in the presence of systemically injected microbubbles. Mouse brains and other major organs were harvested for immunohistological staining, PCR quantification, and in situ hybridization. The AAV delivery outcomes were compared with those of DI, FUS-BBBD, and IN delivery.

Findings: FUSIN achieved safe and efficient delivery of AAV5-EGFP to spatially targeted brain locations, including a superficial brain site (cortex) and a deep brain region (brainstem). FUSIN achieved comparable delivery outcomes as the established DI, and displayed 414.9-fold and 2073.7-fold higher delivery efficiency than FUS-BBBD and IN. FUSIN was associated with minimal biodistribution in peripheral organs, which was comparable to that of DI.

Interpretation: Our results suggest that FUSIN is a promising technique for non-invasive, efficient, safe, and spatially targeted AAV delivery to the brain.

Funding: National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants R01EB027223, R01EB030102, R01MH116981, and UG3MH126861.

Keywords: Adeno-associated viral vectors; Blood–brain barrier; Focused ultrasound; Gene therapy; Intranasal delivery.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intranasal
  • Animals
  • Blood-Brain Barrier* / metabolism
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Receptors, CXCR4* / metabolism
  • Tissue Distribution
  • United States


  • Receptors, CXCR4