Pre-existing immunity to AAV capsid may compromise the safety and efficiency of rAAV-mediated gene transfer in patients. Anti-capsid cytotoxic immune responses have proven to be a challenge to characterize because of the scarcity of circulating AAV-specific CD8+ T lymphocytes which can seldom be detected with conventional flow cytometry or ELISpot assays. Here, we used fluorescent MHC class I tetramers combined with magnetic enrichment to detect and phenotype AAV8-specific CD8+ T cells in human PBMCs without prior amplification. We showed that all healthy individuals tested carried a pool of AAV8-specific CD8+ T cells with a CD45RA+ CCR7- terminally-differentiated effector memory cell (TEMRA) fraction. Ex vivo frequencies of total AAV-specific CD8+ T cells were not predictive of IFNγ ELISpot responses but interestingly we evidenced a correlation between the proportion of TEMRA cells and IFNγ ELISpot positive responses. TEMRA cells may then play a role in recombinant AAV-mediated cytotoxicity in patients with preexisting immunity. Overall, our results encourage the development of new methods combining increased detection sensitivity of AAV-specific T cells and their poly-functional assessment to better characterize and monitor AAV capsid-specific cellular immune responses in the perspective of rAAV-mediated clinical trials.
Keywords: AAV; CD8+ T lymphocytes; gene therapy; immune response; tetramer-associated magnetic enrichment.
Copyright © 2020 Vandamme, Xicluna, Hesnard, Devaux, Jaulin, Guilbaud, Le Duff, Couzinié, Moullier, Saulquin and Adjali.