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Mol Ther. 2012 Oct;20(10):1844-51. doi: 10.1038/mt.2012.129. Epub 2012 Jul 3.

Long-term survival of the juvenile lethal arginase-deficient mouse with AAV gene therapy.

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Department of Surgery, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, California 90095-7054, USA.


Arginase deficiency is characterized by hyperargininemia and infrequent episodes of hyperammonemia. Human patients suffer from neurological impairment with spasticity, loss of ambulation, seizures, and severe mental and growth retardation. In a murine model, onset of the phenotypic abnormality is heralded by weight loss beginning around day 15 with death occurring typically by postnatal day 17 with hyperargininemia and markedly elevated ammonia. The goal of this study was to address the development of a gene therapy approach for arginase deficiency beginning in the neonatal period. Lifespan extension, body weight, circulating amino acids and ammonia levels were examined as outcome parameters after gene therapy with an adeno-associated viral vector expressing arginase was administered to mice on the second day of life (DOL). One-hundred percent of untreated arginase-deficient mice died by DOL 24, whereas 89% of the adeno-associated virus (AAV)-treated arginase deficient mice have survived for >8 months. While animals at 8 months demonstrate elevated glutamine levels, ammonia is less than three times that of controls and arginine levels are normal. These studies are the first to demonstrate that AAV-based therapy for arginase deficiency is effective and supports the development of gene therapy for this and the other urea cycle disorders.

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