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Hum Gene Ther. 2001 Apr 10;12(6):685-96.

Contribution of plasmid DNA to hepatotoxicity after systemic administration of lipoplexes.

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EPI-EMI 0115, CHU, UBO, Brest, France.


Several studies have demonstrated that intravenous administration of DNA complexed with cationic lipid vectors induces the production of large quantities of proinflammatory cytokines. In this study we confirm these observations, using cationic lipid DOTAP and cationic phospholipid compounds. Moreover, we demonstrate that although intravenous administration of lipid-DNA complexes does not induce toxic effects in the lung, high transgene expression in lung correlates with histopathological lesions in liver, this fact being documented by high transaminase levels in serum of treated mice. We examine the contribution of various components of the lipoplexes in this observed liver toxicity, as well as in the increasing level of transaminases, and more particularly the role of nonmethylated CpG sequences of plasmid DNA. We show that blood samples from animals treated either with cationic lipid alone, or with cationic lipid complexed with methylated plasmid DNA, contain low levels of transaminases. The significant decrease in transaminase levels after injection of cationic lipid-methylated pDNA complexes leads us to believe that nonmethylated CpG sequences could play a major role in this hepatoxicity. Similar results were observed when using a vector that did not encode a transgene, demonstrating that the expression of luciferase in lung was not responsible for this liver toxicity. All these observations suggest that significant work should be devoted to understand more clearly the mechanism of cationic lipid-DNA complex toxicity, and to overcome the problems subsequent to administration of non-methylated CpG sequences of plasmid DNA.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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