Molecular therapy : the journal of the American Society of Gene Therapy

Gene therapy with the caspase activation and recruitment domain reduces the ocular inflammatory response.

PMID 25698151


Inflammation is a key component of chronic and acute diseases of the eye. Our goal is to test anti-inflammatory genes delivered by an adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector as potential treatments for retinal inflammation. We developed a secretable and cell penetrating form of the caspase activation and recruitment domain (CARD) from the apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing a CARD (ASC) gene that binds caspase-1 and inhibits its activation by the inflammasome. The secretion and cell penetration characteristics of this construct were validated in vitro by measuring its effects on inflammasome signaling in a monocyte cell line and in an retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE) cell line. This vector was then packaged as AAV particles and tested in the endotoxin-induced uveitis mouse model. Gene expression was monitored one month after vector injection by fluorescence fundoscopy. Ocular inflammation was then induced by injecting lipopolysaccharide into the vitreous and was followed by enucleation 24 hours later. Eyes injected with the secretable and cell penetrating CARD AAV vector had both a significantly lower concentration of IL-1β as well as a 64% reduction in infiltrating cells detected in histological sections. These results suggest that anti-inflammatory genes such as the CARD could be used to treat recurring inflammatory diseases like uveitis or chronic subacute inflammations of the eye.