AAV8 Gene Therapy for Crigler-Najjar Syndrome in Macaques Elicited Transgene T Cell Responses That Are Resident to the Liver

Mol Ther Methods Clin Dev. 2018 Dec 5;11:191-201. doi: 10.1016/j.omtm.2018.10.012. eCollection 2018 Dec 14.


Systemic delivery of adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors has been evaluated for the treatment of several liver diseases, including homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia, ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency, and hemophilia. Here, we evaluated this approach for the treatment of Crigler-Najjar syndrome. We administered wild-type rhesus macaques with 1.0 × 1013 or 2.5 × 1013 genome copies/kg of an AAV serotype 8 vector expressing a codon-optimized version of human uridine diphosphate glucuronosyl transferase 1A1 (UGT1A1) from a liver-specific promoter. We extensively studied vector biodistribution, transgene expression, and immune responses following vector administration. All rhesus macaques survived until their scheduled necropsy at day 56 and showed no clinical abnormalities during the course of the study. Macaques administered with either vector dose developed a T cell response to the AAV capsid and/or transgene. We mapped the immunodominant epitope in the human UGT1A1 sequence, and we found no correlation between peripheral and tissue-resident lymphocyte responses. Upon further investigation, we characterized CD107a+, granzyme B+, CD4+, and CD8+ transgene-specific cellular responses that were restricted to tissue-resident T cells. This study highlights the importance of studying immune responses at the vector transduction site and the limited usefulness of blood as a surrogate to evaluate tissue-restricted T cell responses.

Keywords: AAV; Crigler-Najjar; T cell; UGT1A1; gene therapy; immune response; liver; transgene expression.