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Gene Ther. 2003 Aug;10(15):1216-24.

Electro-gene therapy of collagen-induced arthritis by using an expression plasmid for the soluble p75 tumor necrosis factor receptor-Fc fusion protein.

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  • 1ViroMed Co. Ltd., BongCheon-dong, KwanAk-gu, Seoul, Korea.


Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) is a proinflammatory cytokine involved in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis, and antagonism of TNF may reduce the activity of the disease. Among a number of techniques for gene transfer in vivo, the direct injection of plasmid DNA into muscle is simple, inexpensive, and safe. In this study, we attempted to treat collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) with anti-TNF gene therapy by transferring the plasmid encoding soluble p75 TNF receptor linked to the Fc portion of human IgG1 (sTNFR:Fc) using in vivo electroporation. DBA/1 mice were immunized with bovine type II collagen and boosted with the same antigen. At 2 days after boosting, the plasmid vector containing cDNA for the sTNFR:Fc was injected into one selected site in the gastrocnemius muscle followed by electroporation. Serum levels of sTNFR:Fc reached 2.3 ng/ml on day 5 when gene expression reached its peak. Macroscopic analysis of paws for redness, swelling and deformities showed that the onset of moderate-to-severe CIA in mice treated with sTNFR:Fc was prevented on a significant level compared with the control mice (P<0.05). The beneficial effect of sTNFR:Fc DNA transfer lasted for at least 18 days following treatment. In addition, both the synovitis and the erosion of cartilage in the knee joints were dramatically reduced in mice treated with sTNFR:Fc (P<0.05). The expression of IL-1beta and IL-12 in the paw was also decreased by sTNFR:Fc treatment (P<0.01) while there was little change in the levels of IL-17 and vWF. These data showed that sTNFR:Fc expression plasmid was effective in the prevention of CIA, and in vivo electroporation-mediated gene transfer may provide a new approach to cytokine therapy in autoimmune arthritis.

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