A pentasaccharide for monitoring pharmacodynamic response to gene therapy in GM1 gangliosidosis

Pamela Kell, Rohini Sidhu, Mingxing Qian, Sonali Mishra, Elena Raluca Nicoli, Precilla D'Souza, Cynthia J. Tifft, Amanda L. Gross, Heather L. Gray-Edwards, Douglas R. Martin, Miguel Sena-Esteves, Dennis J. Dietzen, Manmilan Singh, Jingqin Luo, Jean E. Schaffer, Daniel Ory, Xuntian Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: GM1 gangliosidosis is a rare, fatal, neurodegenerative disease caused by mutations in the GLB1 gene and deficiency in β-galactosidase. Delay of symptom onset and increase in lifespan in a GM1 gangliosidosis cat model after adeno-associated viral (AAV) gene therapy treatment provide the basis for AAV gene therapy trials. The availability of validated biomarkers would greatly improve assessment of therapeutic efficacy. Methods: The liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) was used to screen oligosaccharides as potential biomarkers for GM1 gangliosidosis. The structures of pentasaccharide biomarkers were determined with mass spectrometry, as well as chemical and enzymatic degradations. Comparison of LC-MS/MS data of endogenous and synthetic compounds confirmed the identification. The study samples were analyzed with fully validated LC-MS/MS methods. Findings: We identified two pentasaccharide biomarkers, H3N2a and H3N2b, that were elevated more than 18-fold in patient plasma, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), and urine. Only H3N2b was detectable in the cat model, and it was negatively correlated with β-galactosidase activity. Following intravenous (IV) AAV9 gene therapy treatment, reduction of H3N2b was observed in central nervous system, urine, plasma, and CSF samples from the cat model and in urine, plasma, and CSF samples from a patient. Reduction of H3N2b accurately reflected normalization of neuropathology in the cat model and improvement of clinical outcomes in the patient. Interpretations: These results demonstrate that H3N2b is a useful pharmacodynamic biomarker to evaluate the efficacy of gene therapy for GM1 gangliosidosis. H3N2b will facilitate the translation of gene therapy from animal models to patients. Funding: This work was supported by grants U01NS114156, R01HD060576, ZIAHG200409, and P30 DK020579 from the National Institutes of Health ( NIH) and a grant from National Tay-Sachs and Allied Diseases Association Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104627
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • GM1 gangliosidosis
  • Gene therapy
  • Pentasaccharide
  • Pharmacodynamic biomarker


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