Lysosomal storage diseases (LSDs) are a group of inherited metabolic disorders usually caused by deficient activity of a single lysosomal enzyme. As most lysosomal enzymes are ubiquitously expressed, a deficiency in a single enzyme can affect multiple organ systems, including the central nervous system (CNS). At least 75% of all LSDs have a significant CNS component. Approaches such as bone marrow transplantation (BMT) or enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) can effectively treat the systemic disease associated with LSDs in some patients. However, CNS disease remains a major challenge. Gene therapy represents a promising approach for the treatment of CNS disease as it has the potential to provide a permanent source of the deficient enzyme. Direct intracranial injection of viral gene transfer vectors has resulted in reduced lysosomal storage and functional improvement in certain small (rodent) and large (canine and feline) animal models of LSDs. The addition of protein transduction domains (PTDs) to the recombinant enzymes increased the distribution of enzyme and the extent of correction. Therapeutic levels of lysosomal enzymes can also be delivered to distant sites in the brain by anterograde and retrograde axonal transport. Finally, combining disparate approaches such as BMT and CNS-directed gene therapy can increase treatment efficacy in LSDs with severe CNS disease that are refractory to more conventional approaches. Conclusion: The development of gene transfer vectors that mediate persistent expression in vivo, the addition of PTDs, a better understanding of lysosomal enzyme trafficking and combining different therapies provide hope that the CNS component of LSDs can be effectively treated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-27
Number of pages6
JournalActa Paediatrica, International Journal of Paediatrics
Issue numberSUPPL. 457
StatePublished - Apr 2008


  • Axonal transport
  • Gene therapy
  • Lysosomal storage diseases
  • Neurodegenerative disorders
  • Viral vectors


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