Pharmaceutics. 2023 Jan 18;15(2):322. doi: 10.3390/pharmaceutics15020322.
AAV gene therapy for ocular disease has become a reality with the market authorisation of LuxturnaTM for RPE65-linked inherited retinal degenerations and many AAV gene therapies currently undergoing phase III clinical trials. Many ocular disorders have a mitochondrial involvement from primary mitochondrial disorders such as Leber hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON), predominantly due to mutations in genes encoding subunits of complex I, to Mendelian and multifactorial ocular conditions such as dominant optic atrophy, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. In this study, we have optimised the nuclear yeast gene, NADH-quinone oxidoreductase (NDI1), which encodes a single subunit complex I equivalent, creating a candidate gene therapy to improve mitochondrial function, independent of the genetic mutation driving disease. Optimisation of NDI1 (ophNdi1) substantially increased expression in vivo, protected RGCs and increased visual function, as assessed by optokinetic and photonegative response, in a rotenone-induced murine model. In addition, ophNdi1 increased cellular oxidative phosphorylation and ATP production and protected cells from rotenone insult to a significantly greater extent than wild type NDI1. Significantly, ophNdi1 treatment of complex I deficient patient-derived fibroblasts increased oxygen consumption and ATP production rates, demonstrating the potential of ophNdi1 as a candidate therapy for ocular disorders where mitochondrial deficits comprise an important feature.