Adenovirus in the brain: recent advances of gene therapy for neurodegenerative diseases

Prog Neurobiol. 1998 Jul;55(4):333-41. doi: 10.1016/s0301-0082(98)00028-8.


Adenovirus is an efficient vector for neuronal gene therapy due to its ability to infect post-mitotic cells, its high efficacy of cell transduction and its low pathogenicity. Recombinant adenoviruses encoding for therapeutical agents can be delivered in vivo after direct intracerebral injection into specific brain areas. They can be transported in a retrograde manner from the injection site to the projection cell bodies offering promising applications for the specific targeting of selected neuronal populations not easily accessible by direct injection, such as the motor neurons in the spinal cord. Adenoviral vectors are also efficient tools for the ex vivo gene therapy, that is, the genetical modification of cells prior to their transplantation into the nervous system. Recently, the efficacy of the adenovirus as a gene vector system has been demonstrated in several models of neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson's disease (PD) and motor neuron diseases. In rat models of PD, adenoviruses encoding for either tyrosine hydroxylase, superoxide dismutase or glial-derived neurotrophic factor improved the survival and the functional efficacy of dopaminergic cells. Similarly, the intramuscular injection of an adenovirus encoding for neurotrophin-3 had substantial therapeutic effects in a mutant mouse model of motor neuron degenerative disease. However, although adenoviruses are highly attractive for neuronal gene transfer, they can trigger a strong inflammatory reaction leading in particular to the destruction of infected cells. The recent development of new generations of adenoviral vectors could shed light on the nature of the immune reaction caused by adenoviral vectors in the brain. The use of these new vectors, combined with that of neurospecific and regulatable promoters, should improve adenovirus gene transfer into the central nervous system.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adenoviridae*
  • Animals
  • Brain Diseases / therapy*
  • Genetic Therapy / trends*
  • Humans
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / therapy*