Liver-directed gene therapy for ornithine aminotransferase deficiency
Authors: Iolanda Boffa, Elena Polishchuk, Lucia De Stefano, Fabio Dell'Aquila, Edoardo Nusco, Elena Marrocco, Matteo Audano, Silvia Pedretti, Marianna Caterino, Ilaria Bellezza, Margherita Ruoppolo, Nico Mitro, Barbara Cellini, Alberto Auricchio, Nicola Brunetti-Pierri
Sources: EMBO Mol Med
Gyrate atrophy of choroid and retina (GACR) is a chorioretinal degeneration caused by pathogenic variants in the gene encoding ornithine aminotransferase (OAT), an enzyme mainly expressed in liver. Affected patients have increased ornithine concentrations in blood and other body fluids and develop progressive constriction of vision fields leading to blindness. Current therapies are unsatisfactory and better treatments are highly needed. In two mouse models of OAT deficiency that recapitulates biochemical and retinal changes of GACR, we investigated the efficacy of an intravenously injected serotype 8 adeno-associated (AAV8) vector expressing OAT under the control of a hepatocyte-specific promoter. Following injections, OAT-deficient mice showed reductions of ornithine concentrations in blood and eye cups compared with control mice injected with a vector expressing green fluorescent protein. AAV-injected mice showed improved electroretinogram response and partial restoration of retinal structure up to one-year post-injection. In summary, hepatic OAT expression by AAV8 vector was effective at correction of hyperornithinemia and improved function and structure of the retina. In conclusion, this study provides proof-of-concept of efficacy of liver-directed AAV-mediated gene therapy of GACR.