The potential to reverse or prevent progression of the cardiac phenotype of FRDA was investigated in a mouse model of FRDA, using an adeno-associated viral vector (AAV8) containing the coding sequence of the FXN gene. The Fxnflox/null::MCK-Cre conditional knockout mouse (FXN-MCK) has an FXN gene ablation that prevents FXN expression in cardiac and skeletal muscle, leading to cardiac insufficiency, weight loss, and morbidity. FXN-MCK mice received a single intravenous injection of an AAV8 vector containing human (hFXN) or mouse (mFXN) FXN genes under the control of a phosphoglycerate kinase promoter. Compared to vehicle-treated FXN-MCK control mice, AAV-treated FXN-MCK mice displayed increases in body weight, reversal of cardiac deficits, and increases in survival without apparent toxicity in the heart or liver for up to 12 weeks postdose. FXN protein expression in heart tissue was detected in a dose-dependent manner, exhibiting wide distribution throughout the heart similar to wild type, but more speckled. These results support an AAV8-based approach to treat FRDA-associated cardiomyopathy.

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