Genetic manipulation of cells and tissue by RNA interference has significantly contributed to the functional characterization of individual proteins and their role in physiological processes. Despite its versatility, RNA interference can have detrimental side effects, including reduced cell viability. We applied recombinant adeno-associated viruses by stereotaxic injection into the murine hippocampus to express different short hairpin RNA (shRNA) constructs along with eGFP. Tissue responses were assessed immunohistochemically for up to 8 weeks post infection. Strong hippocampal degeneration and tissue atrophy was observed, most likely induced by high shRNA expression. The effect was entirely absent in mice injected with vectors driving only expression of eGFP. Active caspase‑3 (Casp-3) and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) were identified as molecular markers and early indicators of adverse tissue responses. Our findings also demonstrate that detrimental effects of high shRNA expression in hippocampal tissue can be monitored even before the onset of tissue degeneration.
- Received December 12, 2016.
- Accepted February 1, 2017.
- © 2017. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd