Site-specific gene transfer into the rat spinal cord by photomechanical waves.
ABSTRACT Nonviral, site-specific gene delivery to deep tissue is required for gene therapy of a spinal cord injury. However, an efficient method satisfying these requirements has not been established. This study demonstrates efficient and targeted gene transfer into the spinal cord by using photomechanical waves (PMWs), which were generated by irradiating a black laser absorbing rubber with 532-nm nanosecond Nd:YAG laser pulses. After a solution of plasmid DNA coding for enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) or luciferase was intraparenchymally injected into the spinal cord, PMWs were applied to the target site. In the PMW application group, we observed significant EGFP gene expression in the white matter and remarkably high luciferase activity only in the spinal cord segment exposed to the PMWs. We also assessed hind limb movements 24 h after the application of PMWs based on the Basso-Beattie-Bresnahan (BBB) score to evaluate the noninvasiveness of this method. Locomotor evaluation showed no significant decrease in BBB score under optimum laser irradiation conditions. These findings demonstrated that exogenous genes can be efficiently and site-selectively delivered into the spinal cord by applying PMWs without significant locomotive damage.