Strategies for long-term expression of transgenes in the respiratory epithelium.
Gill DR., Bazzani RP., Hyde SC.
Lung gene therapy is being developed to treat acute and chronic airway diseases, and many viral and non-viral gene transfer vectors have been evaluated in the airway epithelium lining the nose and lung. Stem cells have not been clearly defined in the airways and, currently, it is only possible to target progenitor cells to proliferate and repair the epithelium after inducing epithelial damage. However, the majority of airway epithelial cells are slowly dividing or terminally differentiated, thus necessitating repeated administration of gene transfer vectors for life-long transgene expression. Many improvements to adeno-associated virus and lentivirus vectors have led to increased airway transduction efficiencies, although achieving consistent repeated administration remains problematic because of immune system activation. Non-viral vectors appear to be less efficient, but can be successfully re-administered. The modification of plasmid sequences also offers maximum flexibility in increasing and extending the duration of transgene expression in the airways. This review describes recent developments in achieving persistent transgene expression in the airways by specifically targeting the cells of the respiratory epithelium lining the nose and lung.