PublicationsGene transfer to the spinal cord neural scar with lentiviral vectors
Viral vector-mediated overexpression of neurotrophins in cells constituting the neural scar may represent a powerful approach to rendering scar tissue of a central nervous system (CNS) lesion permissive for neuronal regrowth. In this study a lentiviral vector encoding green fluorescent protein (LV-GFP) was injected in and around the neural scar 2 weeks after a dorsal column lesion in the rat spinal cord in order to analyze transduction characteristics of the neural scar after 4, 7, and 14 days. GFP expression was found at all points after injection and increased from 4 to 7 days, with no apparent difference observed between 7 and 14 days. The core of the lesion was virtually devoid of GFP signal despite direct vector injections in this area. The colocalization of GFP with specific cell markers (GFAP, vimentin, Raldh2, NeuN, OX-42, ED-1, and NG-2) indicated that the predominant cells transduced in the rim of the lesion were astrocytes, with neurons, microglia, oligodendrocyte precursors, and macrophages transduced to a lesser extent. None of the Raldh2-positive meningeal cells, present in the core of the scar, expressed GFP. In vitro meningeal cells were readily transduced, indicating that in vivo the formation of an extracellular matrix might prevent LV particles from transducing cells in the core of the scar. Because astrocytes are important cellular constituents of the glial scar after CNS injury, transduction of astrocytes with LV vectors encoding neurotrophic factors like BDNF or NT-3 may be used to enhance regeneration of severed axonal tracts through or along boundaries of a CNS lesion.