Familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is an inherited disorder in humans that is caused by a deficiency of low density lipoprotein receptors (LDLRs). An animal model for FH, the Watanabe Heritable Hyperlipidemic rabbit, was used to develop an approach for liver-directed gene therapy based on transplantation of autologous hepatocytes that were genetically corrected ex vivo with recombinant retroviruses. Animals transplanted with LDLR-transduced autologous hepatocytes demonstrated a 30 to 50 percent decrease in total serum cholesterol that persisted for the duration of the experiment (122 days). Recombinant-derived LDLR RNA was harvested from tissues with no diminution for up to 6.5 months after transplantation.
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