Adenoviral vectors are promising agents for a number of in vivo gene therapy applications including diseases of the heart and coronary vessels. Efficient intravascular gene transfer to specific sites has been achieved in occluded vessels, but otherwise is hampered by the effect of blood flow on localized vector uptake in the vessel wall. An alternative delivery approach to coronary arteries is the expression of diffusible gene products into the pericardial space surrounding the heart and coronary arteries. However, in vivo pericardial access is comparatively difficult and has been limited to surgical approaches. We hypothesized that efficient adenovirus-mediated gene expression in pericardial lining mesothelium could be achieved by transmyocardial vector delivery to the pericardium. To evaluate this concept, a hollow, helical-tipped penetrating catheter was used to deliver vector- containing fluid directly into the intrapericardial space. The catheter was introduced percutaneously in anesthetized mongrel dogs, advanced into the right ventricle, and the tip passed through the apical right ventricular myocardium under direct radiographic visualization until the open end of the catheter tip resided in the intrapericardial space. Adenoviral vectors expressing either nuclear-localizing beta-galactosidase, cytoplasmic luciferase, or secreted human α1AT reporters (Av1nBg, Av1Lu, or Av1Aa, respectively) were instilled through the catheter into the intrapericardial space. Three days later the animals were sacrificed and reporter gene expression was evaluated in pericardium, epicardium, and multiple other tissues. In animals receiving Av1nBg, beta-galactosidase activity was evident in most of the pericardial lining endothelium, up to 100% in many areas. In animals receiving Av1Lu, luciferase reporter activity was abundant in pericardial tissues, but near-background levels were observed in other organs. In animals receiving Av1Aa, human α1AT was abundant (16-29 mg/ml) in pericardial fluid, but was undetectable in serum. All animals tolerated the procedure well with no electrocardiographic changes and no clinical sequelae. These observations demonstrate highly efficient adenovirus vector delivery and gene transfer and expression in the pericardium and support the feasibility of localized gene therapy via catheter-based pericardial approaches. We suggest that the pericardial sac may serve as a sustained- release protein delivery system for the generation of desired gene products or their metabolites for diffusion into the epicardial region.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine