Bioactive proteins or peptides cannot be effectively delivered into brain capillary endothelial cells (BCECs) or brain parenchyma. In this study, we selectively transferred Escherichia coli β-galactosidase gene (β-gal) as a model gene into BCECs by using the hemagglutination virus of Japan (HVJ)-liposomes. HVJ-liposomes encapsulating a β-gal plasmid were used to transfect MBEC4 cells in vitro, and were administrated via the internal carotid artery to rat in vivo. Success of the procedure was confirmed by the detection of 116 kDa β-gal protein in transfected MBEC4 cells and in brain capillaries isolated from transfected rats, by Western blot analysis and histological staining. The enzymatic activities of β-galactosidase were 5- to 10-fold and 20-fold higher than when β-gal-containing liposomes without fusogenic activity (uncoated liposomes) or plasmid alone were employed in vitro and in vivo, respectively. Thus, HVJ-liposomes were demonstrated to be a useful vector to transfer a foreign gene into the brain capillary endothelium in vivo via the transluminal route.
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