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Mol Genet Metab Rep. 2015 Sep;4:92-98.

Delivery of the 7-dehydrocholesterol reductase gene to the central nervous system using adeno-associated virus vector in a mouse model of Smith-Lemli-Opitz Syndrome.

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Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, 5700 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Oakland CA 94609.


Smith Lemli Opitz syndrome (SLOS) is an inherited malformation and mental retardation metabolic disorder with no cure. Mutations in the last enzyme of the cholesterol biosynthetic pathway, 7-dehydrocholesterol reductase (DHCR7), lead to cholesterol insufficiency and accumulation of its dehyrdocholesterol precursors, and contribute to its pathogenesis. The central nervous system (CNS) constitutes a major pathophysiological component of this disorder and remains unamenable to dietary cholesterol therapy due to the impenetrability of the blood brain barrier (BBB). The goal of this study was to restore sterol homeostasis in the CNS. To bypass the BBB, gene therapy using an adeno-associated virus (AAV-8) vector carrying a functional copy of the DHCR7 gene was administered by intrathecal (IT) injection directly into the cerebrospinal fluid of newborn mice. Two months post-treatment, vector DNA and DHCR7 expression was observed in the brain and a corresponding improvement of sterol levels seen in the brain and spinal cord. Interestingly, sterol levels in the peripheral nervous system also showed a similar improvement. This study shows that IT gene therapy can have a positive biochemical effect on sterol homeostasis in the central and peripheral nervous systems in a SLOS animal model. A single dose delivered three days after birth had a sustained effect into adulthood, eight weeks post-treatment. These observations pave the way for further studies to understand the effect of biochemical improvement of sterol levels on neuronal function, to provide a greater understanding of neuronal cholesterol homeostasis, and to develop potential therapies.


7-dehydrocholesterol reductase (DHCR7); AAV; Smith Lemli Opitz syndrome (SLOS); central nervous system (CNS); gene therapy; intrathecal

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