Mol Ther 2005 May;11(5):734-44
Department of Neurology, Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA.
Globoid cell leukodystrophy (GLD) or Krabbe disease is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by a deficiency of galactocerebrosidase (GALC) activity. GALC is required for the lysosomal degradation of galactosylceramide, psychosine, and possibly other galactolipids. This process is extremely important during active myelination. In the absence of functional GALC, psychosine accumulates, resulting in the apoptotic death of myelin-producing cells. While most patients are infants who do not survive beyond 2 years of age, some older patients are also diagnosed. Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation has proven to have a positive effect on the course of some patients with late-onset Krabbe disease. Murine models of this disease provide an excellent opportunity to evaluate therapeutic alternatives including gene therapy. In this study we used serotype 1 AAV to express mouse GALC under the control of the human cytomegalovirus promoter. Direct administration of these viral particles into the brains of neonatal mice with GLD resulted in sustained expression of GALC activity, improved myelination, attenuated symptoms, and prolonged life span. While this treatment also resulted in significant pathological improvements, the treated mice died with symptoms similar to those of the untreated mice. Additional initiatives may be required to prevent the onset of disease and reverse the course of the disease in animal models and human patients.