Indexed on: 26 Jul '13Published on: 26 Jul '13Published in: Blood
Different types of endothelial cells (EC) fulfill distinct tasks depending on their microenvironment. ECs are therefore difficult to genetically manipulate ex vivo for functional studies or gene therapy. We assessed lentiviral vectors (LVs) targeted to the EC surface marker CD105 for in vivo gene delivery. The mouse CD105-specific vector, mCD105-LV, transduced only CD105-positive cells in primary liver cell cultures. Upon systemic injection, strong reporter gene expression was detected in liver where mCD105-LV specifically transduced liver sinusoidal ECs (LSECs) but not Kupffer cells, which were mainly transduced by nontargeted LVs. Tumor ECs were specifically targeted upon intratumoral vector injection. Delivery of the erythropoietin gene with mCD105-LV resulted in substantially increased erythropoietin and hematocrit levels. The human CD105-specific vector (huCD105-LV) transduced exclusively human LSECs in mice transplanted with human liver ECs. Interestingly, when applied at higher dose and in absence of target cells in the liver, huCD105-LV transduced ECs of a human artery transplanted into the descending mouse aorta. The data demonstrate for the first time targeted gene delivery to specialized ECs upon systemic vector administration. This strategy offers novel options to better understand the physiological functions of ECs and to treat genetic diseases such as those affecting blood factors.