Transgene persistence and cell turnover in the diarthrodial joint: Implications for gene therapy of chronic joint diseases

Elvire Gouze, Jean Noel Gouze, Glyn D. Palmer, Carmencita Pilapil, Christopher H. Evans, Steven C. Ghivizzani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Local gene therapy for chronic joint diseases requires prolonged transgenic expression, but this has not been reliably achieved in animal models. Using normal and immunocompromised animals, we examined the capacity of various cell types in joint tissues to maintain and express exogenous transgenes after direct intra-articular gene delivery. We found that transgenic expression could persist for the lifetime of the animal but required precise immunological compatibility between the vector, transgene product, and host. It was not dependent on vector integration or promoter origin. We identified two phenotypically distinct sub-populations of genetically modified cells within the joint: (i) transient cells, with a half-life of a few weeks, and (ii) stable cells that reside in the joint tissues indefinitely. Contrary to the prevailing assumption, the transient sub-population was composed almost exclusively of synovial fibroblasts, indicating that the synovium is not an appropriate tissue upon which to base a long-term therapy. Instead, fibroblasts in the ligaments, tendons, and capsule emerged as the primary cell types capable of sustained therapeutic transgene expression. This study sheds new light on the cellular dynamics of articular tissues and suggests that cell turnover and immune reactivity are the key determinants in achieving sustained transgenic expression intra-articularly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1114-1120
Number of pages7
JournalMolecular Therapy
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery


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