Purpose: To determine the potential of somatic gene transfer as a treatment for proliferative vitreoretinopathy (PVR), experimental PVR was induced in rabbits by intraocular injection of fibroblasts bearing the herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase (HStk) gene. These transduced cells should be susceptible to cytotoxicity by exposure to ganciclovir (GCV).
Materials and methods: Rabbit fibroblasts were transduced with retroviral vectors bearing an HStk gene. Proliferative vitreoretinopathy was induced by injection of 5 x 10(4) normal or HStk gene-transduced fibroblasts (HStk fibroblasts) into rabbit eyes. Ganciclovir (100 micrograms per eye) or saline was injected into the vitreous on days 0 and 4. Experimental animals were divided into three groups: group A received HStk fibroblasts with GCV; group B, normal fibroblasts with GCV; group C, HStk fibroblasts with saline. Proliferative vitreoretinopathy also was induced in several other groups of eyes, some receiving GCV and different proportions of HStk fibroblasts to normal fibroblasts, others receiving only normal fibroblasts and GCV. The eyes were examined by indirect ophthalmoscopy on days 4, 7, 14, and 28, and PVR was classified into six stages (0-5).
Results: Proliferative vitreoretinopathy was induced and progressed over time in each group. On day 28, PVR was most severe in animals in group B (average stage, 4.6) and group C (average stage, 4.4). Proliferative vitreoretinopathy was inhibited in group A (average stage, 1.0). The groups that received mixed injection of HStk fibroblasts and normal fibroblasts had intermediate PVR. Results of histologic study showed no apparent toxic or pathologic reaction in the retinochoroidal tissue of group A animals.
Conclusions: Severity of experimental PVR clearly was reduced by transfer of the HStk gene and administration of GCV. This inhibitory effect also was produced by a combination of 10% HStk fibroblasts and 90% normal fibroblasts, indicating a significant bystander effect. These data suggest the potential of somatic gene therapy for the treatment of PVR.