Photoreceptor protection by Adeno-associated virus-mediated LEDGF expression in the RCS rat model of retinal degeneration: Probing the mechanism

Dorit Raz-Prag, Yong Zeng, Paul A. Sieving, Ronald A. Bush

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Purpose. Lens epithelium-derived growth factor (LEDGF) is upregulated in response to stress and enhances the survival of neurons in the retina and optic nerve, as well as a wide range of other cells, such as fibroblasts and keratinocytes. Photore-ceptor protection was investigated in the RCS rat retinal degeneration model after Ledgf delivery with an adeno-associated virus (AAV) and the mechanism of protection explored. Methods. Thirty-six RCS and nine P23H rats had bilateral sub-retinal injections of AAV-Ledgf in one eye and buffer in the contralateral eye as the control. Retinal function was evaluated 8 weeks later by the electroretinogram and compared with photoreceptor cell layer count. LEDGF mRNA and protein levels and mRNA levels of known stress-related factors were compared in treated and control retinas to explore the mechanism of LEDGF protection. Nine RCS rats were treated with adenovirus-heat shock protein 27 (Ad-HSP27) and examined for protection. Results. Significant photoreceptor protection was evident functionally and morphologically in 65% to 100% of the RCS rats treated at early ages of up to 7 weeks. Cell protection was more prominent in the superior retinal hemisphere which has a slower natural degeneration rate in untreated eyes. Although many of the heat shock proteins and other stress-related genes showed significant elevation in the AAV-Ledgf-treated eyes, all increases were approximately twofold or less. Transduction of retinal cells with Ad-HSP27 also resulted in photoreceptor protection. AAV-Ledgf elicited no photoreceptor functional protection in P23H rhodopsin transgenic rat retina. Conclusions. Chronic LEDGF treatment via AAV-Ledgf administration gave successful protection of photoreceptors in the RCS rat retina and retarded cell death by about 2 weeks. Induction of heat shock proteins also gave photoreceptor protection. However, compelling evidence was not found that LEDGF protection was associated with upregulation of heat shock proteins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3897-3906
Number of pages10
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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