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J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 1998 Mar;115(3):623-30.

Ex vivo adenovirus-mediated gene transfer to the adult rat heart.

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Department of Surgery, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.



The ability to transfer genes to adult myocardium may have therapeutic implications for cardiac transplantation. We investigated the feasibility of adenovirus-mediated transfer of marker genes LacZ and Luciferase, as well as the potentially therapeutic gene of the human beta2-adrenergic receptor in a rat heterotopic heart transplant model.


Donor hearts were flushed with 10(12) total viral particles of one of three transgenes. Hearts were harvested at various time points after transplantation. LacZ-treated hearts were assessed by histologic staining and Luciferase-treated hearts were assayed for specific luminescence activity. Hearts treated with beta2-adrenergic receptor underwent radioligand binding assays and immunohistochemistry with the use of an antibody specific for the human beta2-adrenergic receptor.


LacZ hearts revealed diffuse myocyte staining as opposed to none within controls at 5 days. Luciferase hearts demonstrated a mean activity of 970,000 +/- 220,000 arbitrary light units versus 500 +/- 200 for the controls (p = 0.001). Total beta2-adrenergic receptor densities (fmol/mg membrane protein) for hearts that received the beta2-adrenergic receptor transgene at 3, 5, 7, 10, and 14 days after infection were as follows: right ventricle, 488.5 +/- 126.8, 519.4 +/- 81.8,* 477.1 +/- 51.8,* 183.0 +/- 6.5,* and 82.7 +/- 19.1; left ventricle, 511.0 +/- 167.6, 1206.4 +/- 321.8,* 525.3 +/- 188.7, 183.5 +/- 18.6,* and 75.9 +/- 15.2 (*p < 0.05 vs control value of 75.6 +/- 6.4). Immunohistochemical analysis revealed diffuse staining of varying intensity within myocardial sarcolemmal membranes.


We conclude that global overexpression of different transgenes is possible during cardiac transplantation and, ultimately, adenovirus-mediated gene transfer may provide a unique opportunity for genetic manipulation of the donor organ, potentially enhancing its function.

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