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Steven Hyun Seung Lee, HeeSoon Chang, Ji Hyun Kim, Hee Jong Kim, Jun-Sub Choi, Sunho Chung, Ha-Na Woo, Kyoung Jin Lee, Keerang Park, Joo Yong Lee, Heuiran Lee; Inhibition of mTOR via an AAV-Delivered shRNA Tested in a Rat OIR Model as a Potential Antiangiogenic Gene Therapy. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2020;61(2):45. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.61.2.45.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Recent studies have shown that inhibitors of the mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) play important roles in proliferating endothelial cells within the retinal vasculature. Here we explore the effects of inhibiting mTOR as a potential gene therapeutic against pathological retinal angiogenesis in a rat model of oxygen-induced retinopathy (OIR).
Sprague-Dawley pups were used to generate the OIR model, with a recombinant adeno-associated virus expressing an shRNA (rAAV2-shmTOR-GFP) being administered via intravitreal injection on returning the rats to normoxia, with appropriate controls. Immunohistochemistry and TUNEL assays, as well as fluorescein angiography, were performed on transverse retinal sections and flat mounts, respectively, to determine the in vivo effects of mTOR inhibition.
Compared with normal control rats, as well as OIR model animals that were either untreated (20.95 ± 6.85), mock-treated (14.50 ± 2.47), or injected with a control short hairpin RNA (shRNA)-containing virus vector (16.64 ± 4.92), rAAV2-shmTOR-GFP (4.28 ± 2.86, P = 0.00103) treatment resulted in dramatically reduced neovascularization as a percentage of total retinal area. These results mirrored quantifications of retinal avascular area and vessel tortuosity, with rAAV2-shmTOR-GFP exhibiting significantly greater therapeutic efficacy than the other treatments. The virus vector was additionally shown to reduce inflammatory cell infiltration into retinal tissue and possess antiapoptotic properties, both these processes having been implicated in the pathophysiology of angiogenic retinal disorders.
Taken together, these results demonstrate the strong promise of rAAV2-shmTOR-GFP as an effective and convenient gene therapy for the treatment of neovascular retinal diseases.
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