Timing of Intensive Immunosuppression Impacts Risk of Transgene Antibodies after AAV Gene Therapy in Nonhuman Primates

Mol Ther Methods Clin Dev. 2020 May 12:17:1129-1138. doi: 10.1016/j.omtm.2020.05.001. eCollection 2020 Jun 12.


Adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector gene therapy is a promising treatment for a variety of genetic diseases, including hemophilia. Systemic administration of AAV vectors is associated with a cytotoxic immune response triggered against AAV capsid proteins, which if untreated can result in loss of transgene expression. Immunosuppression (IS) with corticosteroids has limited transgene loss in some AAV gene therapy clinical trials, but was insufficient to prevent loss in other studies. We used a nonhuman primate model to evaluate intensive T cell-directed IS combined with AAV-mediated transfer of the human factor IX (FIX) gene. Early administration of rabbit anti-thymocyte globulin (ATG) concomitant with AAV administration resulted in the development of anti-FIX antibodies, whereas delayed ATG by 5 weeks administration did not. The anti-FIX immune response was associated with increases in inflammatory cytokines, as well as a skewed Th17/regulatory T cell (Treg) ratio. We conclude that the timing of T cell-directed IS is critical in determining transgene-product immunogenicity or tolerance. These data have implications for systemically administered AAV gene therapy being evaluated for hemophilia A and B, as well as other genetic diseases.

Keywords: AAV; ATG; Th17; Tregs; gene therapy; gene transfer; immunogenecity; immunosuppression; nonhuman primates; transgene immunogenecity.