A comparative study on intra-articular versus systemic gene electrotransfer in experimental arthritis

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Electric pulse mediated gene transfer has been applied successfully in vivo for increasing naked DNA administration in various tissues. To achieve non-viral gene transfer into arthritic joint tissue, we investigated the use of electrotransfer (ET). Because anti-inflammatory cytokine strategies have proven efficient in experimental models of arthritis, we compared the therapeutic efficiency of local versus systemic delivery of the interleukin-10 (IL-10) using in vivo ET.


A plasmid vector expressing IL-10 was transferred into DBA/1 mouse knee joints by ET with 12 pulses of variable duration and voltage. The kinetics of transgene expression were analyzed by specific enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) in sera and knees. Optimal conditions were then used to deliver increasing amounts of IL-10 plasmid intra-articularly (i.a.) in the collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) mouse model. The therapeutic efficiency was compared with the potency of intra-muscular (i.m.) ET.


Following i.a. ET, local IL-10 secretion peaked on day 7 and dropped 2 weeks after. A second ET produced the same kinetics without enhancing gene transfer efficiency, while transgene was still detected in injected muscles 4 weeks after ET. Only the i.m. ET of 25 μg of IL-10 significantly inhibited all the clinical and biological features of arthritis. The i.a. ET only showed mild improvement of arthritis when 100 μg of IL-10 plasmid were electrotransfered weekly from day 18 following arthritis induction.


The present results suggest that gene transfer into arthritic joints by ET is an effective means to deliver anti-inflammatory cytokines. However, short duration of transgene expression impedes a significant effect for the treatment of arthritis, making i.m. ET more potent than i.a. ET for clinical benefit in CIA. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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