A novel strategy for delivering Niemann-Pick type C2 proteins across the blood-brain barrier using the brain endothelial-specific AAV-BR1 virus

Charlotte Laurfelt Munch Rasmussen, Eva Hede, Lisa Juul Routhe, Jakob Körbelin, Steinunn Sara Helgudottir, Louiza Bohn Thomsen, Markus Schwaninger, Annette Burkhart*, Torben Moos*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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Treating central nervous system (CNS) diseases is complicated by the incapability of numerous therapeutics to cross the blood–brain barrier (BBB), mainly composed of brain endothelial cells (BECs). Genetically modifying BECs into protein factories that supply the CNS with recombinant proteins is a promising approach to overcome this hindrance, especially in genetic diseases, like Niemann Pick disease type C2 (NPC2), where both CNS and peripheral cells are affected. Here, we investigated the potential of the BEC-specific adeno-associated viral vector (AAV-BR1) encoding NPC2 for expression and secretion from primary BECs cultured in an in vitro BBB model with mixed glial cells, and in healthy BALB/c mice. Transduced primary BECs had significantly increased NPC2 gene expression and secreted NPC2 after viral transduction, which significantly reversed cholesterol deposition in NPC2 deficient fibroblasts. Mice receiving an intravenous injection with AAV-BR1-NCP2-eGFP were sacrificed 8 weeks later and examined for its biodistribution and transgene expression of eGFP and NPC2. AAV-BR1-NPC2-eGFP was distributed mainly to the brain and lightly to the heart and lung, but did not label other organs including the liver. eGFP expression was primarily found in BECs throughout the brain but occasionally also in neurons suggesting transport of the vector across the BBB, a phenomenon also confirmed in vitro. NPC2 gene expression was up-regulated in the brain, and recombinant NPC2 protein expression was observed in both transduced brain capillaries and neurons. Our findings show that AAV-BR1 transduction of BECs is possible and that it may denote a promising strategy for future treatment of NPC2. (Figure presented.)

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)6-28
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

© 2022 The Authors. Journal of Neurochemistry published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of International Society for Neurochemistry.


  • AAV-BR1
  • AAV2
  • Niemann Pick disease type C2
  • blood–brain barrier
  • viral gene therapy


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