Virally mediated RNA interference (RNAi) to knock down injury-induced genes could improve functional outcome after traumatic brain injury (TBI); however, little is known about the consequences of gene knockdown on downstream cell signaling pathways and how RNAi influences neurodegeneration and behavior. Here, we assessed the effects of adeno-associated virus (AAV) siRNA vectors that target two genes with opposing roles in TBI pathogenesis: the allegedly detrimental neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) and the potentially protective glutathione peroxidase 1 (GPx-1). In rat hippocampal progenitor cells, three siRNAs that target different regions of each gene (nNOS, GPx-1) effectively knocked down gene expression. However, in vivo, in our rat model of fluid percussion brain injury, the consequences of AAV-siRNA were variable. One nNOS siRNA vector significantly reduced the number of degenerating hippocampal neurons and showed a tendency to improve working memory. GPx-1 siRNA treatment did not alter TBI-induced neurodegeneration or working memory deficits. Nevertheless, microarray analysis of laser captured, virus-infected neurons showed that knockdown of nNOS or GPx-1 was specific and had broad effects on downstream genes. Since nNOS knockdown only modestly ameliorated TBI-induced working memory deficits, despite widespread genomic changes, manipulating expression levels of single genes may not be sufficient to alter functional outcome after TBI.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)