Immunity to adenovirus and adeno-associated viral vectors: implications for gene therapy

Gene Ther. 2003 Jun;10(11):955-63. doi: 10.1038/


Viral vectors have provided effective methods for in vivo gene delivery for therapeutic purposes. The ability of viruses to infect a wide variety of cell types in vivo has been exploited for several applications, such as liver, lung, muscle, brain, eye and many others. Immune responses directed towards the viral capsids and the transgene products have severely affected the ability of these vectors to induce long-term gene expression. This paper reviews the influence of viral vectors on antigen-presenting cells (APC), which are central to the induction of innate as well as adaptive immune responses. In this respect, we have focused on adenovirus and adeno-associated viruses because of the polar responses these vector systems induce in vivo. While adenovirus vector can induce significant inflammatory responses, adeno-associated viral vectors are characterized by their inability to consistantly induce immune responses to the transgene product. Understanding the mechanism of infection, transduction and activation of APC by viral vectors will provide strategies to develop safe vectors and prevent immune responses in gene therapies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenoviridae / immunology*
  • Adenoviridae Infections / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / immunology*
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / virology
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Dependovirus / immunology*
  • Genetic Engineering
  • Genetic Therapy / adverse effects*
  • Genetic Vectors / administration & dosage
  • Genetic Vectors / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Transduction, Genetic
  • Transgenes
  • Viral Envelope Proteins / immunology


  • Viral Envelope Proteins