Megalencephalic leukoencephalopathy with subcortical cysts (MLC) is a rare genetic disorder belonging to the group of vacuolating leukodystrophies. It is characterized by megalencephaly, loss of motor functions, epilepsy, and mild mental decline. In brain biopsies of MLC patients, vacuoles were observed in myelin and in astrocytes surrounding blood vessels. There is no therapy for MLC patients, only supportive treatment. We show here a preclinical gene therapy approach for MLC using the Mlc1 knock-out mouse. An adeno-associated virus coding for human MLC1 under the control of the glial fibrillary acidic protein promoter was injected in the cerebellar subarachnoid space of Mlc1 knock-out and wild-type animals at 2 months of age, before the onset of the disease, as a preventive approach. We also tested a therapeutic strategy by injecting the animals at 5 months, once the histopathological abnormalities are starting, or at 15 months, when they have progressed to a more severe pathology. MLC1 expression in the cerebellum restored the adhesion molecule GlialCAM and the chloride channel ClC-2 localization in Bergmann glia, which both are mislocalized in Mlc1 knock-out model. More importantly, myelin vacuolation was extremely reduced in treated mice at all ages and correlated with the amount of expressed MLC1 in Bergmann glia, indicating not only the preventive potential of this strategy but also its therapeutic capacity. In summary, here we provide the first therapeutic approach for patients affected with MLC. This work may have also implications to treat other diseases affecting motor function such as ataxias.
- Gene therapy