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Correction of Familial LCAT Deficiency by AAV-hLCAT Prevents Renal Injury and Atherosclerosis in Hamsters—Brief Report

Mengmeng Guo, Sisi Ma, Yitong Xu, , Mingming Gao, Xiaobing Wu, Xiaoyan Dong, Yuhui Wang, George Liu,

Abstract: Objective: Familial lecithin:cholesterol acyltransferase (LCAT) deficiency is a rare human disease characterized by very low HDL (high-density lipoprotein) and elevated free cholesterol, in which renal injury has been confirmed in, but whether familial LCAT deficiency patients were at higher risk of atherosclerosis-related cardiovascular disease was highly controversial. Using CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing technology, we established LCAT knockout (LCAT −/− ) hamster model showing both diet-induced and spontaneous atherosclerosis, indicating that this animal model provides a platform for the therapeutic study of renal disease and atherosclerosis caused by LCAT deficiency. Approach and Results: To explore an efficient therapy for familial LCAT deficiency and then investigate whether correction of LCAT deficiency will exert a beneficial role in atherosclerosis-related cardiovascular disease, herein we established a liver-specific adeno-associated virus 8 expressing human LCAT (AAV-hLCAT) to determine the efficacy of gene therapy for dyslipidemia, renal injury, and atherosclerosis-related cardiovascular disease in LCAT −/− hamsters. Single administration of AAV-hLCAT via intrajugular vein could completely restore LCAT expression in LCAT −/− animals in a dose-dependent manner and rapidly normalize plasma HDL levels within 2 weeks. In addition, upon high-fat diet intervention for 4 weeks, AAV-hLCAT administered LCAT −/− hamsters exhibited improved atherogenic lipoprotein profiles, lower urine protein/creatinine ratio, a significant increase in red blood cells and hemoglobin, thus eventually protecting against atherosclerotic development. Conclusions: Single administration of AAV-hLCAT effectively corrects LCAT deficiency for a long-term in LCAT −/− hamsters and completely rescue multiple abnormalities, including renal injury, anemia, and atherosclerosis, suggesting that AAV8-mediated hLCAT expression in liver will be a promising therapeutic approach for familial LCAT deficiency.
Keywords: atherosclerosis / liver / plasma / cardiovascular diseases / dyslipidemias

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