Adenovirus-mediated delivery of Factor H attenuates complement C3 induced pathology in the murine retina: a potential gene therapy for age-related macular degeneration

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Abstract

Background

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of blindness in the elderly, with no therapy available for 90% of patients. Recent genetic evidence implicates activation of complement in the pathogenesis of AMD. We have recently discovered that adenovirus (Ad)-mediated expression of complement component C3 (AdCMVC3) in the murine retina recapitulates many of the pathological features found in human AMD. In the present study, utilizing a gene therapy approach, we examine whether Ad-mediated expression of complement Factor H (AdCAGfH) attenuates AdCMVC3-mediated retinal pathology.

Methods

AdCMVC3 was co-injected with either AdCAGfH or a negative control virus expressing green fluorescent protein (AdCMVGFP) into the subretinal space of adult mice. The resulting retinal pathology was analyzed by histology and immunocytochemistry and retinal function was quantified by electroretinography.

Results

Morphological and functional analyses indicated that AdCMVC3-mediated retinal pathology could be attenuated by AdCAGfH. Specifically, endothelial cell proliferation was reduced by 91% and atrophy of retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) could be attenuated by 69%. AdCAGfH injected eyes exhibited 90–150% greater A-wave and 120–180% greater B-wave amplitudes relative to control eyes. Immunocytochemical analysis of rhodopsin and RPE65 was consistent with the rescue of photoreceptors and RPE in AdCAGfH injected eyes.

Conclusions

C3-induced pathology in murine retina can be attenuated by Ad-mediated expression of Factor H. Expression of Factor H is worthy of further study as a potential gene therapy for AMD. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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