Globoid cell leukodystrophy (GLD; Krabbe disease) is a progressive, incurable neurodegenerative disease caused by deficient activity of the hydrolytic enzyme galactosylceramidase (GALC). The ensuing cytotoxic accumulation of psychosine results in diffuse central and peripheral nervous system (CNS, PNS) demyelination. Presymptomatic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is the only treatment for infantile-onset GLD; however, clinical outcomes of HSCT recipients often remain poor, and procedure-related morbidity is high. There are no effective therapies for symptomatic patients. Herein, we demonstrate in the naturally occurring canine model of GLD that presymptomatic monotherapy with intrathecal AAV9 encoding canine GALC administered into the cisterna magna increased GALC enzyme activity, normalized psychosine concentration, improved myelination, and attenuated inflammation in both the CNS and PNS. Moreover, AAV-mediated therapy successfully prevented clinical neurological dysfunction, allowing treated dogs to live beyond 2.5 years of age, more than 7 times longer than untreated dogs. Furthermore, we found that a 5-fold lower dose resulted in an attenuated form of disease, indicating that sufficient dosing is critical. Finally, postsymptomatic therapy with high-dose AAV9 also significantly extended lifespan, signifying a treatment option for patients for whom HSCT is not applicable. If translatable to patients, these findings would improve the outcomes of patients treated either pre- or postsymptomatically.
ASJC Scopus subject areas