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Transplantation. 2004 Apr 15;77(7):997-1003.

Gene therapy for organ grafts using rapid injection of naked DNA: application to the rat liver.

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Division of Organ Replacement Research, Center for Molecular Medicine, Jichi Medical School, Yakushiji, Minamikawachi, Kawa chi, Tochigi, Japan.



We developed a nonviral gene transfer method using rapid injection of naked DNA targeting the liver and applied it in a rat model of liver transplantation.


Inbred Dark Agouti and Lewis rats were used. To test the efficacy and adverse effects of systemic or local (catheter-based) injection, different volumes of phosphate-buffered saline containing naked DNA encoding beta-galactosidase (lacZ) were injected. Luciferase expression was followed by non-invasive imaging, and a cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen 4-immunoglobulin (CTLA4Ig) protein was tested functionally by allogenic heart transplantation. Gene transfer was then tested in rat auxiliary liver transplantation (ALT) and orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT). The timing of gene transfer was evaluated in the auxiliary liver transplantation model, and OLT was performed using a liver graft to which luciferase or the CTLA4Ig gene was transferred 2 days before.


LacZ was expressed extensively in a volume-dependent manner; however, a large volume often induced recipient death. After local delivery of CTLA4Ig cDNA to the liver, survival of Dark Agouti heart grafts lengthened with increased CTLA4Ig serum levels. Liver grafts injected with naked DNA at the time of donation did not survive, but livers grafted 2 days after gene transfer survived. Successful expression of luciferase and production of CTLA4Ig were finally confirmed in the rat that underwent OLT.


We successfully applied a nonviral hydrodynamic gene transfer method to the rat liver and showed its potential in liver grafting. The high incidence of graft failure when this procedure is performed on the day of organ donation is a potential limitation that needs to be overcome in clinical application.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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