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Macrophage enzyme and reduced inflammation drive brain correction of mucopolysaccharidosis IIIB by stem cell gene therapy

Holley, RJ and Ellison, SM and Fil, D and O'Leary, C and McDermott, J and Senthivel, N and Langford-Smith, A and Wilkinson, Fiona and D'Souza, Z and Parker, H and Liao, A and Rowlston, S and Gleitz, H and Kan, S and Dickson, P and Bigger, BW (2017) Macrophage enzyme and reduced inflammation drive brain correction of mucopolysaccharidosis IIIB by stem cell gene therapy. Brain, 141 (1). pp. 99-116. ISSN 0006-8950

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Abstract

Mucopolysaccharidosis IIIB is a paediatric lysosomal storage disease caused by deficiency of the enzyme α-N-acetylglucosaminidase (NAGLU), involved in the degradation of the glycosaminoglycan heparan sulphate. Absence of NAGLU leads to accumulation of partially degraded heparan sulphate within lysosomes and the extracellular matrix, giving rise to severe CNS degeneration with progressive cognitive impairment and behavioural problems. There are no therapies. Haematopoietic stem cell transplant shows great efficacy in the related disease mucopolysaccharidosis I, where donor-derived monocytes can transmigrate into the brain following bone marrow engraftment, secrete the missing enzyme and cross-correct neighbouring cells. However, little neurological correction is achieved in patients with mucopolysaccharidosis IIIB. We have therefore developed an ex vivo haematopoietic stem cell gene therapy approach in a mouse model of mucopolysaccharidosis IIIB, using a high-titre lentiviral vector and the myeloid-specific CD11b promoter, driving the expression of NAGLU (LV.NAGLU). To understand the mechanism of correction we also compared this with a poorly secreted version of NAGLU containing a C-terminal fusion to IGFII (LV.NAGLU-IGFII). Mucopolysaccharidosis IIIB haematopoietic stem cells were transduced with vector, transplanted into myeloablated mucopolysaccharidosis IIIB mice and compared at 8 months of age with mice receiving a wild-type transplant. As the disease is characterized by increased inflammation, we also tested the anti-inflammatory steroidal agent prednisolone alone, or in combination with LV.NAGLU, to understand the importance of inflammation on behaviour. NAGLU enzyme was substantially increased in the brain of LV.NAGLU and LV.NAGLU-IGFII-treated mice, with little expression in wild-type bone marrow transplanted mice. LV.NAGLU treatment led to behavioural correction, normalization of heparan sulphate and sulphation patterning, reduced inflammatory cytokine expression and correction of astrocytosis, microgliosis and lysosomal compartment size throughout the brain. The addition of prednisolone improved inflammatory aspects further. Substantial correction of lysosomal storage in neurons and astrocytes was also achieved in LV.NAGLU-IGFII-treated mice, despite limited enzyme secretion from engrafted macrophages in the brain. Interestingly both wild-type bone marrow transplant and prednisolone treatment alone corrected behaviour, despite having little effect on brain neuropathology. This was attributed to a decrease in peripheral inflammatory cytokines. Here we show significant neurological disease correction is achieved using haematopoietic stem cell gene therapy, suggesting this therapy alone or in combination with anti-inflammatories may improve neurological function in patients.

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