Observed incidence of tumorigenesis in long-term rodent studies of rAAV vectors.

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Animals-Newborn, Carcinoma-Hepatocellular, Dependovirus, Genetic-Vectors, Hemangiosarcoma, Liver-Neoplasms, Lysosomal-Storage-Diseases, Mice, Mice-Mutant-Strains, Models-Animal, SUPPORT-U-S-GOVT-P-H-S

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see Reprint Collection.

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Gene Ther 2001 Sep; 8(17):1343-6.




Gene therapy using recombinant adeno-associated virus vectors (rAAV) is generally considered safe. During the course of a study designed to determine the long-term efficacy of rAAV-mediated gene therapy initiated in newborn mice with the lysosomal storage disease, mucopolysaccharidosis type VII (MPSVII), a significant incidence of hepatocellular carcinomas and angiosarcomas was discovered. A hepatocellular carcinoma was first detected in a 35-week-old mouse and by 72 weeks of age, three out of five rAAV-treated MPSVII mice had similar lesions. These types of tumors had not been seen previously in long-term studies of MPSVII mice using recombinant enzyme or bone marrow transplantation. In an attempt to ascertain whether mouse strain or GUSB expression confers susceptibility to tumor formation, we histopathologically examined untreated normal mice of the same strain, untreated MPSVII mice, and normal mice overexpressing human GUSB for the presence of tumors and increased hepatocyte replication. The results of these studies do not indicate that MPSVII mice or mice overexpressing human GUSB are susceptible to tumor formation; however, the number of animals examined is too small to draw definitive conclusions. Results from quantitative PCR performed on the tumor samples suggest that the tumors are probably not caused by an insertional mutagenesis event followed by the clonal expansion of a transformed cell. In a separate study, a relatively large group of mice injected with varying doses and types of rAAV vectors had no evidence of hepatic or vascular tumors. Although the mechanism of tumor formation is currently unknown, the tumorigenic potential of rAAV vectors must be rigorously determined in long-term in vivo studies.

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