Results from early-phase clinical trials have indicated that recombinant adeno-associated viruses (rAAV) could potentially be used for gene therapy. In each trial, however, patients have developed T cell-mediated immune responses that may interfere with therapeutic gene expression. In this episode, Terence Flotte and Christian Mueller discuss their recent study investigating T cell responses to intramuscular injection of a rAAV encoding M-type a1-antitrypsin (AAT) in patients with AAT-deficiency. Their results demonstrate that AAT expression persists for up to 12 months and suggest that immunomodulation of T cell populations may not be necessary for long-term, rAAV-mediated transgene expression.
Recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) vectors have shown promise for the treatment of several diseases; however, immune-mediated elimination of transduced cells has been suggested to limit and account for a loss of efficacy. To determine whether rAAV vector expression can persist long term, we administered rAAV vectors expressing normal, M-type α-1 antitrypsin (M-AAT) to AAT-deficient subjects at various doses by multiple i.m. injections. M-specific AAT expression was observed in all subjects in a dose-dependent manner and was sustained for more than 1 year in the absence of immune suppression. Muscle biopsies at 1 year had sustained AAT expression and a reduction of inflammatory cells compared with 3 month biopsies. Deep sequencing of the TCR Vβ region from muscle biopsies demonstrated a limited number of T cell clones that emerged at 3 months after vector administration and persisted for 1 year. In situ immunophenotyping revealed a substantial Treg population in muscle biopsy samples containing AAT-expressing myofibers. Approximately 10% of all T cells in muscle were natural Tregs, which were activated in response to AAV capsid. These results suggest that i.m. delivery of rAAV type 1–AAT (rAAV1-AAT) induces a T regulatory response that allows ongoing transgene expression and indicates that immunomodulatory treatments may not be necessary for rAAV-mediated gene therapy.
Christian Mueller, Jeffrey D. Chulay, Bruce C. Trapnell, Margaret Humphries, Brenna Carey, Robert A. Sandhaus, Noel G. McElvaney, Louis Messina, Qiushi Tang, Farshid N. Rouhani, Martha Campbell-Thompson, Ann Dongtao Fu, Anthony Yachnis, David R. Knop, Guo-jie Ye, Mark Brantly, Roberto Calcedo, Suryanarayan Somanathan, Lee P. Richman, Robert H. Vonderheide, Maigan A. Hulme, Todd M. Brusko, James M. Wilson, Terence R. Flotte