The ob/ob mouse is genetically deficient in leptin and exhibits a phenotype that includes obesity and non-insulin-dependent diabetes melitus. This phenotype closely resembles the morbid obesity seen in humans. In this study, we demonstrate that a single intramuscular injection of a recombinant adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector encoding mouse leptin (rAAV-leptin) in ob/ob mice leads to prevention of obesity and diabetes. The treated animals show normalization of metabolic abnormalities including hyperglycemia, insulin resistance, impaired glucose tolerance, and lethargy. The effects of a single injection have lasted through the 6-month course of the study. At all time points measured the circulating levels of leptin in the serum were similar to age-matched control C57 mice. These results demonstrate that maintenance of normal levels of leptin (2–5 ng/ml) in the circulation can prevent both the onset of obesity and associated non-insulin-dependent diabetes. Thus a single injection of a rAAV vector expressing a therapeutic gene can lead to complete and long-term correction of a genetic disorder. Our study demonstrates the long-term correction of a disease caused by a genetic defect and proves the feasibility of using rAAV-based vectors for the treatment of chronic disorders like obesity
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