We investigated the feasibility of delivering exogenous genes into spinal cord using direct in vivo electrotransfection. Gene transfer to the spinal cord was accomplished via direct intrathecal injection of pE-GFP C1 vector, followed by five electric pulses for 50 ms at 200 V delivered intrathecally. The spinal cords were retrieved and analyzed with fluorescence microscopy, reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), and Western blotting. At day 1, 3 or 7 following electroporation a clear GFP expression in spinal cord tissue was detected. The most prominent transfection occurred in the meningeal cells and superficial layer of the spinal cord. Successful transfection was also confirmed with RT-PCR and Western blotting. The expression of GFP protein was peaked between 3 and 7 days after electroporation and significantly decreased at 14 days. No behavioral or spinal neurodegenerative changes were detected at any time point. This study demonstrates that direct in vivo electrotransfection represents an effective and simple method for spinal gene delivery and have a potential to be used clinically, especially, acute or chronic pain.
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