Gene therapy with bilirubin-UDP-glucuronosyltransferase in the Gunn rat model of Crigler-Najjar syndrome type 1

Qianhong Li, Sidney S. Murphree, Sharon S. Willer, Roberto Bolli, Brent A. French

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Crigler-Najjar syndrome type 1 (CN type 1) is an autosomal recessive disorder characterized by nonhemolytic jaundice resulting from mutations to the gene encoding bilirubin-UDP-glucuronosyltransferase (UDPGT). The Gunn rat is an accurate animal model of this disease because the bilirubin-UDPGT gene in this strain carries a premature stop codon. The primary objective of this study was to complement this deficiency in vivo using liver-directed gene therapy. The efficiency of adenovirus type 5 (Ad5)-mediated gene transfer to the neonatal rat liver was first assessed by intravenous (i.v.) injection of an Ad5 vector carrying a nuclear-localized LacZ gene. An Ad5 vector expressing the cDNA encoding human bilirubin-UDPGT (Ad5/CMV/hUG-Br1) was then generated and injected i.v. into neonatal Gunn rats. Plasma samples were collected and bilirubin levels were determined at regular intervals. Although the mean level of bilirubin in homozygous Gunn rats 1-2 days after birth was already 14.5-fold higher than that of heterozygous siblings, treatment with Ad5/CMV/hUG-Br1 reduced plasma bilirubin to normal levels within 1 week. Plasma bilirubin in the treated homozygous rats remained normal for 4 weeks before gradually climbing to intermediate levels that were approximately half that of untreated homozygotes by 12 weeks. Administration of Ad5-mediated gene therapy to neonatal Gunn rats effectively complemented the deficiency in bilirubin-UDPGT, resulting in substantial reductions in plasma bilirubin over a 3-month period. The efficacy of Ad5-mediated gene therapy in neonates suggests that this approach might be effective against other hepatic disorders, including autosomal recessive deficiencies in lipid metabolism and vascular homeostasis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)497-505
Number of pages9
JournalHuman gene therapy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 1 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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