Exposure to wild-type AAV drives distinct capsid immunity profiles in humans

J Clin Invest. 2018 Dec 3;128(12):5267-5279. doi: 10.1172/JCI122372. Epub 2018 Oct 22.


Recombinant adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors have been broadly adopted as a gene delivery tool in clinical trials, owing to their high efficiency of transduction of several host tissues and their low immunogenicity. However, a considerable proportion of the population is naturally exposed to the WT virus from which AAV vectors are derived, which leads to the acquisition of immunological memory that can directly determine the outcome of gene transfer. Here, we show that prior exposure to AAV drives distinct capsid immunity profiles in healthy subjects. In peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) isolated from AAV-seropositive donors, recombinant AAV triggered TNF-α secretion in memory CD8+ T cells, B cell differentiation into antibody-secreting cells, and anti-capsid antibody production. Conversely, PBMCs isolated from AAV-seronegative individuals appeared to carry a population of NK cells reactive to AAV. Further, we demonstrated that the AAV capsid activates IL-1β and IL-6 cytokine secretion in monocyte-related dendritic cells (moDCs). IL-1β and IL-6 blockade inhibited the anti-capsid humoral response in vitro and in vivo. These results provide insights into immune responses to AAV in humans, define a possible role for moDCs and NK cells in capsid immunity, and open new avenues for the modulation of vector immunogenicity.

Keywords: Gene therapy; Immunology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Capsid / immunology*
  • Cell Line
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Dependovirus / immunology*
  • Female
  • Gene Transfer Techniques
  • Genetic Therapy
  • Genetic Vectors / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Humoral*
  • Immunologic Memory*
  • Interleukin-1beta / immunology
  • Interleukin-6 / immunology
  • Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged


  • IL1B protein, human
  • IL6 protein, human
  • Interleukin-1beta
  • Interleukin-6