Systemic Adeno-Associated Virus-Mediated Gene Therapy Prevents the Multiorgan Disorders Associated with Aldehyde Dehydrogenase 2 Deficiency and Chronic Ethanol Ingestion

Yuki Matsumura, Na Li, Hanan Alwaseem, Odelya E. Pagovich, Ronald G. Crystal, Matthew B. Greenblatt, Katie M. Stiles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Aldehyde dehydrogenase type 2 (ALDH2), a key enzyme in ethanol metabolism, processes toxic acetaldehyde to nontoxic acetate. ALDH2 deficiency affects 8% of the world population and 35-45% of East Asians. The ALDH2∗2 allele common genetic variant has a glutamic acid-to-lysine substitution at position 487 (E487K) that reduces the oxidizing ability of the enzyme resulting in systemic accumulation of acetaldehyde with ethanol ingestion. With chronic ethanol ingestion, mutations in ALDH2 are associated with a variety of hematological, neurological, and dermatological abnormalities, and an increased risk for esophageal cancer and osteoporosis. Based on our prior studies demonstrating that a one-time administration of an adeno-associated virus (AAV) serotype rh.10 gene transfer vector expressing the human ALDH2 cDNA (AAVrh.10hALDH2) prevents the acute effects of ethanol administration (the "Asian flush syndrome"), we hypothesized that AAVrh.10hALDH2 would also prevent the chronic disorders associated with ALDH2 deficiency and chronic ethanol ingestion. To assess this hypothesis, AAVrh.10hALDH2 (1011 genome copies) was administered intravenously to two models of ALDH2 deficiency, Aldh2 knockout homozygous (Aldh2-/-) and knockin homozygous (Aldh2E487K+/+) mice (n = 10 per group). Four weeks after vector administration, mice were given drinking water with 10-15% ethanol for 12 weeks. Strikingly, compared with nonethanol drinking littermates, AAVrh.10hALDH2 administration prevented chronic ethanol-induced serum acetaldehyde accumulation and elevated liver malondialdehyde levels, loss of body weight, reduced hemoglobin levels, reduced performance in locomotor activity tests, accumulation of esophageal DNA damage and DNA adducts, and development of osteopenia. AAVrh.10hALDH2 should be considered as a preventative therapy for the increased risk of chronic disorders associated with ALDH2 deficiency and chronic alcohol exposure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-182
Number of pages20
JournalHuman gene therapy
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020



  • AAV gene therapy
  • ALDH2
  • esophageal cancer
  • osteoporosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics

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