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Gene Ther. 1994 Mar;1(2):114-21.

Pharmacological enhancement of in vivo foreign gene expression in muscle.

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Department of Pediatrics, Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison 53705, USA.


Intramuscular injection of naked plasmid DNA provides a means for gene transfer and expression in striated muscle. In this study, the effects of treating muscle with normal saline, etidocaine, mepivacaine, acetic anhydride, sodium bicarbonate, Notechis scutatus venom, cardiotoxin and bupivacaine before plasmid DNA injection on foreign gene expression were evaluated. Dose dependence, strain and species specificity, the time interval between pharmacological agent and plasmid DNA injection, the stability of gene expression and the fate of the injected plasmid DNA were studied using reporter gene expression, by histological examination and semi-quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Of the various agents tested, the best enhancement of foreign gene expression occurred in muscle treated with 0.75% bupivacaine five to seven days before plasmid DNA injection. Rat and mouse quadriceps muscle treated with 0.75% bupivacaine had levels of luciferase activity four- to 40-times greater than non-bupivacaine-treated muscle. Also, beta-galactosidase expressing myofibers were observed throughout the length of the muscle in samples treated with 0.75% bupivacaine before reporter gene injection. Muscle treated with 0.75% bupivacaine fully recovered from the degeneration caused by its injection with no long-term effects histologically. The heightened level of reporter gene expression persisted in 0.75% bupivacaine-treated muscle for one month, but decreased to that of non-bupivacaine-treated muscle by two months after plasmid DNA injection. Enhancement of foreign gene expression may be particularly advantageous in vaccination protocols employing intramuscular plasmid injection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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