Spatially and Temporally Regulated NRF2 Gene Therapy Using Mcp-1 Promoter in Retinal Ganglion Cell Injury

Kosuke Fujita, Koji M. Nishiguchi, Yukihiro Shiga, Toru Nakazawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Retinal ganglion cell degeneration triggered by axonal injury is believed to underlie many ocular diseases, including glaucoma and optic neuritis. In these diseases, retinal ganglion cells are affected unevenly, both spatially and temporally, such that healthy and unhealthy cells coexist in different patterns at different time points. Herein, we describe a temporally and spatially regulated adeno-associated virus gene therapy aiming to reduce undesired off-target effects on healthy retinal neurons. The Mcp-1 promoter previously shown to be activated in stressed retinal ganglion cells following murine optic nerve injury was combined with the neuroprotective intracellular transcription factor Nrf2. In this model, Mcp-1 promoter-driven NRF2 expression targeting only stressed retinal ganglion cells showed efficacy equivalent to non-selective cytomegalovirus promoter-driven therapy for preventing cell death. However, cytomegalovirus promoter-mediated NRF2 transcription induced cellular stress responses and death of Brn3A-positive uninjured retinal ganglion cells. Such undesired effects were reduced substantially by adopting the Mcp-1 promoter. Combining a stress-responsive promoter and intracellular therapeutic gene is a versatile approach for specifically targeting cells at risk of degeneration. This strategy may be applicable to numerous chronic ocular and non-ocular conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-141
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular Therapy - Methods and Clinical Development
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jun 16


  • AAV gene therapy
  • Mcp-1
  • NRF2
  • glaucoma
  • optic neuropathy
  • oxidative stress
  • retina


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