Gene therapy progress and prospects: adenoviral vectors

Gene Ther. 2003 Jul;10(14):1135-41. doi: 10.1038/


In September 1999, the perceptions of the use of adenoviral (Ad) vectors for gene therapy were altered when a patient exposed via the hepatic artery to a high dose of adenoviral vector succumbed to the toxicity related to vector administration. Appropriately, concerns were raised about continued use of the Ad vector system and, importantly, there were increased efforts to more fully understand the toxicity. Today it is recognized that there is no ideal vector system, and that while Ad vectors are not suitable for all applications, the significant advantages over other vector systems including efficient transduction of a variety of cell types, both quiescent and dividing, make it optimal for certain applications. These include protocols where high levels of short-term expression are sufficient to provide a therapeutic benefit. Potential target applications include therapeutic angiogenesis, administration into immune-privileged sites such as the CNS, or treatments where the adjuvant effect of adenovirus can be of benefit such as cancer vaccines. Broader applicability of Ad vectors will require resolution of toxicity issues. This review will therefore focus on studies conducted over the last 2 years that have advanced our understanding of the toxicity associated with Ad vectors, studies that have employed methods to reduce toxicity and improvements in Ad vectors themselves that will reduce toxicity by one of several mechanisms. These mechanisms include retargeting vector to the tissue of interest, minimizing or eliminating viral gene expression that is thought to result in loss of transduced cells, or by methods that seek to reduce the vector dose required for therapeutic benefit. An area where there remains significant room for improvement is when readministration of vector is required because transgene expression has decreased to background levels.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenoviridae / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Forecasting
  • Gene Targeting / methods
  • Gene Targeting / trends
  • Genetic Therapy / methods
  • Genetic Therapy / trends*
  • Genetic Vectors / administration & dosage*
  • Genetic Vectors / adverse effects
  • Genetic Vectors / genetics
  • Humans
  • Models, Animal
  • Primates
  • Transduction, Genetic / methods
  • Transgenes