Secretion of bioactive human insulin following plasmid-mediated gene transfer to non-neuroendocrine cell lines, primary cultures and rat skeletal muscle in vivo

in Journal of Endocrinology

The objective of these studies was to evaluate human insulin gene expression following intramuscular plasmid injection in non-diabetic rats as a potential approach to gene therapy for diabetes mellitus avoiding the need for immunosuppression. A wild-type human preproinsulin construct and a mutant construct in which PC2/PC3 sites were engineered to form furin consensus sites were evaluated in in vitro transfections of hepatocyte (HepG2) and myoblast (C2C12/L6) cell lines, primary rat myoblasts, and dermal fibroblasts. In vivo gene transfer by percutaneous plasmid injection of soleus muscle +/- prior notexin-induced myolysis was assessed in rats. In vitro transfection of non-neuroendocrine cell lines and primary cultures with wild-type human preproinsulin resulted in secretion of predominantly unprocessed proinsulin. Employing the mutant construct, there was significant processing to mature insulin (HepG2, 95%; C2C12, 75%; L6, 65%; primary myoblasts, 48%; neonatal fibroblasts, 56%; adult fibroblasts, 87%). In rats aged 5 weeks, circulating human (pro)insulin was detected from 1 to 37 days following plasmid injection and the potential of augmenting transfection efficiency by prior notexin injection was demonstrated (wild-type processing, 87%; mutant, 90%). Relative hypoglycaemia was confirmed by HbA1C (saline, 5.5%; wild type, 5.1%; mutant, 5.1% (P<0.05)). Human (pro)insulin levels and processing (wild-type, 8%; mutant, 53%) were lower in rats aged 9 months but relative hypoglycaemia was confirmed by serum glucose at 10 days (saline, 6.4 mmol/l; wild-type, 6.0 mmol/l; mutant, 5.4 mmol/l). In conclusion, prolonged constitutive systemic secretion of bioactive human (pro)insulin has been attained in non-neuroendocrine cells in vitro and in growing and mature rats following intramuscular plasmid injection.

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      Society for Endocrinology

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