Retroviral gene transfer to liver without prior injury has not yet been accomplished. We hypothesized that recombinant human keratinocyte growth factor would stimulate proliferation of hepatocytes and allow for efficient in vivo gene transfer with high titer murine Moloney retroviral vectors. This report shows that 48 h after intravenous injection of keratinocyte growth factor, hepatocyte proliferation increased approximately 40-fold compared to non-stimulated livers. When keratinocyte growth factor treatment was followed by intravenous injection of high titer (1 x 10(8) colony forming units/ml) retrovirus coding for the Escherichia Coli beta-galactosidase gene, there was a 600-fold increase in beta-galactosidase expression, with 2% of hepatocytes transduced. Thus, by exploiting the mitogenic properties of keratinocyte growth factor, retrovirus-mediated gene transfer to liver may be accomplished in vivo without the use of partial hepatectomy or pretreatment with other toxins to induce hepatocyte cell division.


A Bosch, P B McCray Jr, S M Chang, T R Ulich, W S Simonet, D J Jolly, B L Davidson


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