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PLoS One. 2012;7(5):e37197. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0037197. Epub 2012 May 16.

Caspase inhibition with XIAP as an adjunct to AAV vector gene-replacement therapy: improving efficacy and prolonging the treatment window.

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  • 1Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States of America.



AAV-mediated gene therapy in the rd10 mouse, with retinal degeneration caused by mutation in the rod cyclic guanosine monophosphate phosphodiesterase β-subunit (PDEβ) gene, produces significant, but transient, rescue of photoreceptor structure and function. This study evaluates the ability of AAV-mediated delivery of X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis (XIAP) to enhance and prolong the efficacy of PDEβ gene-replacement therapy.


Rd10 mice were bred and housed in darkness. Two groups of animals were generated: Group 1 received sub-retinal AAV5-XIAP or AAV5-GFP at postnatal age (P) 4 or 21 days; Group 2 received sub-retinal AAV5-XIAP plus AAV5- PDEβ, AAV5-GFP plus AAV5- PDEβ, or AAV- PDEβ alone at age P4 or P21. Animals were maintained for an additional 4 weeks in darkness before being moved to a cyclic-light environment. A subset of animals from Group 1 received a second sub-retinal injection of AAV8-733-PDEβ two weeks after being moved to the light. Histology, immunohistochemistry, Western blots, and electroretinograms were performed at different times after moving to the light.


Injection of AAV5-XIAP alone at P4 and 21 resulted in significant slowing of light-induced retinal degeneration, as measured by outer nuclear thickness and cell counts, but did not result in improved outer segment structure and rhodopsin localization. In contrast, co-injection of AAV5-XIAP and AAV5-PDEβ resulted in increased levels of rescue and decreased rates of retinal degeneration compared to treatment with AAV5-PDEβ alone. Mice treated with AAV5-XIAP at P4, but not P21, remained responsive to subsequent rescue by AAV8-733-PDEβ when injected two weeks after moving to a light-cycling environment.


Adjunctive treatment with the anti-apoptotic gene XIAP confers additive protective effect to gene-replacement therapy with AAV5-PDEβ in the rd10 mouse. In addition, AAV5-XIAP, when given early, can increase the age at which gene-replacement therapy remains effective, thus effectively prolonging the window of opportunity for therapeutic intervention.

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