Uveoretinitis is an ocular autoimmune disease caused by the activation of autoreactive T- cells targeting retinal antigens. The myxoma M013 gene is known to block NF-κB (Nuclear Factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells) and inflammasome activation, and its gene delivery has been demonstrated to protect the retina against lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced uveitis. In this report we tested the efficacy of M013 in an experimental autoimmune uveoretinitis (EAU) mouse model. B10RIII mice were injected intravitreally with AAV (adeno associated virus) vectors delivering either secreted GFP (sGFP) or sGFP-TatM013. Mice were immunized with interphotorecptor retinoid binding protein residues 161–180 (IRBP161–180) peptide in complete Freund’s adjuvant a month later. Mice were evaluated by fundoscopy and spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) at 14 days post immunization. Eyes were evaluated by histology and retina gene expression changes were measured by reverse transcribed quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR). No significant difference in ERG or retina layer thickness was observed between sGFP and sGFP-TatM013 treated non-uveitic mice, indicating safety of the vector. In EAU mice, expression of sGFP-TatM013 strongly lowered the clinical score and number of infiltrative cells within the vitreous humor when compared to sGFP treated eyes. Retina structure was protected, and pro-inflammatory genes expression was significantly decreased. These results indicate that gene delivery of myxoma M013 could be of clinical benefit against autoimmune diseases.
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