AAV9-mediated expression of a non-self protein in nonhuman primate central nervous system triggers widespread neuroinflammation driven by antigen-presenting cell transduction

Mol Ther. 2014 Feb;22(2):329-337. doi: 10.1038/mt.2013.266. Epub 2013 Nov 21.


Many studies have demonstrated that adeno-associated virus serotype 9 (AAV9) transduces astrocytes and neurons when infused into rat or nonhuman primate (NHP) brain. We previously showed in rats that transduction of antigen-presenting cells (APC) by AAV9 encoding a foreign protein triggered a full neurotoxic immune response. Accordingly, we asked whether this phenomenon occurred in NHP. We performed parenchymal or intrathecal infusion of AAV9 encoding green fluorescent protein (GFP), a non-self protein derived from jellyfish, or human aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase (hAADC), a self-protein, in separate NHP. Animals receiving AAV9-GFP into cisterna magna (CM) became ataxic, indicating cerebellar pathology, whereas AAV9-hAADC animals remained healthy. In transduced regions, AAV9-GFP elicited inflammation associated with early activation of astrocytic and microglial cells, along with upregulation of major histocompatibility complex class II (MHC-II) in glia. In addition, we found Purkinje neurons lacking calbindin after AAV9-GFP but not after AAV9-hAADC delivery. Our results demonstrate that AAV9-mediated expression of a foreign-protein, but not self-recognized protein, triggers complete immune responses in NHP regardless of the route of administration. Our results warrant caution when contemplating use of serotypes that can transduce APC if the transgene is not syngeneic with the host. This finding has the potential to complicate preclinical toxicology studies in which such vectors encoding human cDNA's are tested in animals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / immunology*
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / metabolism*
  • Central Nervous System / immunology*
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism*
  • Central Nervous System / pathology
  • Corpus Striatum / immunology
  • Corpus Striatum / metabolism
  • Corpus Striatum / pathology
  • Dependovirus* / genetics
  • Dependovirus* / immunology
  • Gene Expression
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Genetic Vectors* / administration & dosage
  • Genetic Vectors* / genetics
  • Genetic Vectors* / immunology
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / genetics*
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Rats
  • Transduction, Genetic
  • Transgenes


  • Green Fluorescent Proteins