Whole animal in vivo imaging after transient, nonviral gene delivery to the rat central nervous system

Ellen S. Hauck, Shaomin Zou, Keith Scarfo, Michael H. Nantz, James G. Hecker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


We previously showed that a vector:lipid delivery system, comprised of a plasmid DNA vector and cationic lipid (lipoplex), when injected into the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of rats can deliver reporter genes in vivo efficiently and with widespread expression to the Central Nervous System (CNS). To further characterize this delivery system, we now present experiments that demonstrate the in vivo time-to-peak expression of the reporter gene, firefly luciferase. We infused a formulated lipoplex containing the lipid MLRI [dissymmetric myristoyl (14:0) and lauroyl (12:1) rosenthal inhibitor-substituted compound formed from the tetraalkylammonium glycerol-based DORI] and pNDluc, a luciferase vector, into CSF in the cisterna magna (CM) of the rat. Luciferase activity was followed over time by bioluminescence imaging after injection of luciferin. Our results show that luciferase activity in the CNS of rats is widespread, peaks 72 hours after injection into CM and can be detected in vivo for at least 7-10 days after peak expression. We further show that in contrast to injection into CSF, enzyme activity is not widely distributed after injection of the vector into brain parenchyma, emphasizing the importance of CSF delivery to achieve widespread vector distribution. Finally, we confirm the distribution of firefly luciferase in brain by immunohistochemical staining from an animal that was euthanized at the peak of enzyme expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1857-1864
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular Therapy
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Genetics
  • Drug Discovery
  • Pharmacology


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