In Vivo Molecular Imaging of Adenoviral versus Lentiviral Gene Therapy in Two Bone Formation Models

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Regional gene therapy techniques are promising methods to enhance bone formation in large bone defects that would be difficult to treat with allograft or autograft bone stock. In this study, we compared in vivo temporal expression patterns of adenoviral- and lentiviral-mediated gene therapy in two bone formation models. Primary rat bone marrow cells (RBMC) were transduced with lentiviral or adenoviral vectors containing luciferase (Luc) or BMP-2 cDNA, or cotransduced with vectors containing Luc and bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP-2). In vitro protein production was determined with luciferase assay or ELISA (for BMP-2 production) weekly for 12 weeks. Two bone formation models were used—a hind limb muscle pouch or radial defect—in SCID mice. A cooled charged-coupled device (CCD) camera was used to image in vivo luciferase expression weekly for 12 weeks. In vitro, adenoviral expression of BMP-2 and luciferase was detected by ELISA or luciferase assay, respectively, for 4 weeks. Lentiviral expression of BMP-2 and luciferase was sustained in culture for 3 months. Using the CCD camera, we found that adenoviral vectors expressed luciferase expression for up to 21 days, but lentiviral vectors expressed target gene expression for 3 months in vivo in both bone formation models. There was no detectable difference in the amount of bone formed between the adenoviral and lentiviral groups. Lentiviral-mediated delivery of BMP-2 can induce long term in vitro and in vivo gene expression, which may be beneficial when developing tissue engineering strategies to heal large bone defects or defects with a compromised biologic environment.

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