Immune evasion by muscle-specific gene expression in dystrophic muscle

Mol Ther. 2001 Dec;4(6):525-33. doi: 10.1006/mthe.2001.0496.


Muscle tissue from Duchenne muscular dystrophy patients and the Dmd(mdx/mdx) (hereafter referred to as mdx) mouse is characterized by an abundance of necrotic myofibers and infiltrating macrophages. Both features may provide additional stimulus to the immune response directed against novel antigens, such as those delivered by gene therapy vectors. It has previously been shown that the immune evasion achieved by adeno-associated virus in healthy muscle fails in one model of muscular dystrophy. Here, we examined the immune response to adenoviral vectors and their transgenes in normal and mdx mice. We found that mdx mouse muscles contain 20 times more macrophages and 7 times more dendritic cells than healthy muscles. This higher professional antigen-presenting cell content results in a stronger immune response to antigens that can be directly presented by those cells, including viral antigens and constitutively expressed transgene products. However, we did not detect a significant immune response to beta-galactosidase expressed specifically in muscle, even at high expression levels. This result suggests that cross-presentation is not more effective in mdx mouse muscle, and that targeted vectors and tissue-specific promoters may be useful tools for evasion of the immune response in dystrophic muscle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adenoviridae / genetics
  • Animals
  • Antigens, CD / immunology
  • DNA Primers / chemistry
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology*
  • Dystrophin / genetics
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Genetic Therapy
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Macrophages / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred mdx
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Muscle, Skeletal / immunology*
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Animal / immunology*
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Animal / therapy
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / pathology
  • beta-Galactosidase / metabolism


  • Antigens, CD
  • DNA Primers
  • Dystrophin
  • Interferon-gamma
  • beta-Galactosidase