The possibility that vaccination with adenovirus (AdV) vectors increased mucosal T cell activation remains a central hypothesis to explain the potential enhancement of HIV acquisition within the Step trial. Modeling this within rhesus macaques is complicated because human adenoviruses, including human adenovirus type 5 (HAdV-5), are not endogenous to macaques. Here, we tested whether vaccination with a rhesus macaque-derived adenoviral vector (simian adenovirus 7 [SAdV-7]) enhances mucosal T cell activation within rhesus macaques. Following intramuscular SAdV-7 vaccination, we observed a pronounced increase in SAdV-7-specific CD4(+) T cell responses in peripheral blood and, more dramatically, in rectal mucosa tissue. Vaccination also induced a significant increase in the frequency of activated memory CD4(+) T cells in SAdV-7- and HAdV-5-vaccinated animals in the rectal mucosa but not in peripheral blood. These fluctuations within the rectal mucosa were also associated with a pronounced decrease in the relative frequency of naive resting CD4(+) T cells. Together, these results indicate that peripheral vaccination with an AdV vector can increase the activation of mucosal CD4(+) T cells, potentially providing an experimental model to further evaluate the role of host-vector interactions in increased HIV acquisition after AdV vector vaccination.
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is one of the most common autosomal recessive lethal disorders affecting white populations of northern European ancestry. To date there is no cure for CF. Life-long treatments for CF are being developed and include gene therapy and the use of small-molecule drugs designed to target specific cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene mutations. Irrespective of the type of molecular therapy for CF, which may include gene replacement, exon skipping, nonsense suppression, or molecular correctors, because all of these modulate gene expression there is an inherent risk of activation of T cells against the wild-type version of CFTR. Here we report the validation of the human interferon-? enzyme-linked immunospot assay and its application for the analysis of CFTR-specific T cell responses in patients with CF and in non-CF subjects. We found non-CF subjects with low levels of self-reactive CFTR-specific T cells in the United States and several patients with CF with low to high levels of self-reactive CFTR-specific T cells in both the United States and the United Kingdom.
Recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) vectors have shown promise for the treatment of several diseases; however, immune-mediated elimination of transduced cells has been suggested to limit and account for a loss of efficacy. To determine whether rAAV vector expression can persist long term, we administered rAAV vectors expressing normal, M-type ?-1 antitrypsin (M-AAT) to AAT-deficient subjects at various doses by multiple i.m. injections. M-specific AAT expression was observed in all subjects in a dose-dependent manner and was sustained for more than 1 year in the absence of immune suppression. Muscle biopsies at 1 year had sustained AAT expression and a reduction of inflammatory cells compared with 3 month biopsies. Deep sequencing of the TCR V? region from muscle biopsies demonstrated a limited number of T cell clones that emerged at 3 months after vector administration and persisted for 1 year. In situ immunophenotyping revealed a substantial Treg population in muscle biopsy samples containing AAT-expressing myofibers. Approximately 10% of all T cells in muscle were natural Tregs, which were activated in response to AAV capsid. These results suggest that i.m. delivery of rAAV type 1-AAT (rAAV1-AAT) induces a T regulatory response that allows ongoing transgene expression and indicates that immunomodulatory treatments may not be necessary for rAAV-mediated gene therapy.
Liver gene transfer with adeno-associated viral (AAV) 2/8 vectors is being considered for therapy of systemic diseases like mucopolysaccharidosis type VI (MPS VI), a lysosomal storage disease due to deficiency of arylsulfatase B (ARSB). We have previously reported that liver gene transfer with AAV2/8 results in sustained yet variable expression of ARSB. We hypothesized that the variability we observed could be due to pre-existing immunity to wild-type AAV8. To test this, we compared the levels of AAV2/8-mediated transduction in MPS VI cats with and without pre-existing immunity to AAV8. In addition, since levels of lysosomal enzymes as low as 5% of normal are expected to be therapeutic, we evaluated the impact of pre-existing immunity on MPS VI phenotypic rescue. AAV2/8 administration to MPS VI cats without pre-existing neutralizing antibodies to AAV8 resulted in consistent and dose-dependent expression of ARSB, urinary glycosaminoglycan (GAG) reduction, and femur length amelioration. Conversely, animals with pre-existing immunity to AAV8 showed low levels of ARSB expression and limited phenotypic improvement. Our data support the use of AAV2/8-mediated gene transfer for MPS VI and other systemic diseases, and highlight that pre-existing immunity to AAV8 should be considered in determining subject eligibility for therapy.
Adeno-associated virus (AAV) is a member of the family Parvoviridae that has been widely used as a vector for gene therapy because of its safety profile, its ability to transduce both dividing and non-dividing cells, and its low immunogenicity. AAV has been detected in many different tissues of several animal species but has not been associated with any disease. As a result of natural infections, antibodies to AAV can be found in many animals including humans. It has been shown that pre-existing AAV antibodies can modulate the safety and efficacy of AAV vector-mediated gene therapy by blocking vector transduction or by redirecting distribution of AAV vectors to tissues other than the target organ. This review will summarize antibody responses against natural AAV infections, as well as AAV gene therapy vectors and their impact in the clinical development of AAV vectors for gene therapy. We will also review and discuss the various methods used for AAV antibody detection and strategies to overcome neutralizing antibodies in AAV-mediated gene therapy.
Recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) vectors offer promise for the gene therapy of ?(1)-antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency. In our prior trial, an rAAV vector expressing human AAT (rAAV1-CB-hAAT) provided sustained, vector-derived AAT expression for >1 year. In the current phase 2 clinical trial, this same vector, produced by a herpes simplex virus complementation method, was administered to nine AAT-deficient individuals by intramuscular injection at doses of 6.0×10(11), 1.9×10(12), and 6.0×10(12) vector genomes/kg (n=3 subjects/dose). Vector-derived expression of normal (M-type) AAT in serum was dose dependent, peaked on day 30, and persisted for at least 90 days. Vector administration was well tolerated, with only mild injection site reactions and no serious adverse events. Serum creatine kinase was transiently elevated on day 30 in five of six subjects in the two higher dose groups and normalized by day 45. As expected, all subjects developed anti-AAV antibodies and interferon-? enzyme-linked immunospot responses to AAV peptides, and no subjects developed antibodies to AAT. One subject in the mid-dose group developed T cell responses to a single AAT peptide unassociated with any clinical effects. Muscle biopsies obtained on day 90 showed strong immunostaining for AAT and moderate to marked inflammatory cell infiltrates composed primarily of CD3-reactive T lymphocytes that were primarily of the CD8(+) subtype. These results support the feasibility and safety of AAV gene therapy for AAT deficiency, and indicate that serum levels of vector-derived normal human AAT >20??g/ml can be achieved. However, further improvements in the design or delivery of rAAV-AAT vectors will be required to achieve therapeutic target serum AAT concentrations.
Many genetic metabolic diseases manifest in infancy, therefore, it is important to develop effective treatments that could be implemented at this time. Adeno-associated virus serotype 8 (AAV8) gene transfer has been studied in neonatal mouse, cat, and dog models and shown some efficacy with a single hepatic injection at birth. AAV8-mediated liver gene transfer has also generated sustained therapeutic effects in feline and canine models of lysosomal storage disorders. In these models, delaying the age of vector treatment increased gene transfer stability. The growth rate of infant nonhuman primates is more similar to the growth trajectory of humans, thus infant monkeys provide an excellent model to study AAV gene transfer efficiency, stability, and safety. In this study, we report for the first time that AAV8-mediated hepatic gene transfer in infant monkeys is safe and efficient but less stable when compared to adolescent animals. Infant monkeys administered AAV8 intravenously at 1 week postnatal age achieved up to 98% transduction of hepatocytes within 7 days of injection; however, there was significant dilution of genomes and loss of transgene expression 35 days postadministration. Delaying the injection to 1 month postnatal age did not improve stability of transduction but decreased the antibody response to AAV8 capsid.
Neutralizing antibodies (NAb) to an adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector due to previous natural infection with wild-type AAV can significantly limit gene transfer. NAb titers to AAV serotype 2 (AAV2) and AAV8 in human subjects (0 to 18 years) were studied. NAb prevalence is moderate at birth, decreases markedly from 7 to 11 months, and then progressively increases through childhood and adolescence.
Gene therapy is emerging as a therapeutic modality for treating disorders of the retina. Photoreceptor cells are the primary cell type affected in many inherited diseases of retinal degeneration. Successfully treating these diseases with gene therapy requires the identification of efficient and safe targeting vectors that can transduce photoreceptor cells. One serotype of adeno-associated virus, AAV2, has been used successfully in clinical trials to treat a form of congenital blindness that requires transduction of the supporting cells of the retina in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). Here, we determined the dose required to achieve targeting of AAV2 and AAV8 vectors to photoreceptors in nonhuman primates. Transgene expression in animals injected subretinally with various doses of AAV2 or AAV8 vectors carrying a green fluorescent protein transgene was correlated with surgical, clinical, and immunological observations. Both AAV2 and AAV8 demonstrated efficient transduction of RPE, but AAV8 was markedly better at targeting photoreceptor cells. These preclinical results provide guidance for optimal vector and dose selection in future human gene therapy trials to treat retinal diseases caused by loss of photoreceptors.
Vectors based on the primate-derived adeno-associated virus serotype 8 (AAV8) are being evaluated in preclinical and clinical models. Natural infections with related AAVs activate memory B cells that produce antibodies capable of modulating the efficacy and safety of the vector. We have evaluated the biology of AAV8 gene transfer in macaque liver, with a focus on assessing the impact of pre-existing humoral immunity. Twenty-one macaques with various levels of AAV neutralizing antibody (NAb) were injected intravenously with AAV8 vector expressing green fluorescent protein. Pre-existing antibody titers in excess of 1:10 substantially diminished hepatocyte transduction that, in the absence of NAbs, was highly efficient. Vector-specific NAb diminished liver deposition of genomes and unexpectedly increased genome distribution to the spleen. The majority of animals showed high-level and stable sequestration of vector capsid protein by follicular dendritic cells of splenic germinal centers. These studies illustrate how natural immunity to a virus that is related to a vector can impact the efficacy and potential safety of in vivo gene therapy. We propose to use the in vitro transduction inhibition assay to evaluate research subjects before gene therapy and to preclude from systemic AAV8 trials those that have titers in excess of 1:10.
Persistent adenoviral shedding in stools is known to occur past convalescence following acute adenoviral infections. We wished to establish the frequency with which adenoviruses may colonize the gut in normal human subjects.
This study evaluated six adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors expressing green fluorescent protein (GFP) from the liver-specific thyroid hormone-binding globulin (TBG) promoter made with novel capsids in canine liver-directed gene transfer. Studies in 1.5-month-old dogs, which were administered vector through a peripheral vein, showed that AAV8 capsid vectors had the most favorable performance profiles. Interestingly, the absolute levels of hepatocyte transduction achieved with AAV8 were lower in dogs compared with what had been achieved in mice and nonhuman primates. Additional studies were performed with AAV8 delivered into the hepatic artery in adult dogs, with higher doses of vector used to assess potential dose-limiting toxicities. These studies showed good transduction on day 7 in one dog that apparently was lost by day 28 in another dog through the generation of GFP-specific T cells. Each adult dog was carefully monitored for any hemodynamic changes associated with vector infusion. Both animals demonstrated mild to moderate hypotension and bradycardia, which appeared to be anesthesia-related, making it difficult to evaluate contributions of the vector.
Candida albicans is an opportunistic dimorphic fungus commonly present in the human oral cavity that causes infections in immunocompromised patients. The antigen variability, influenced by growth conditions, is a pathogenicity factor.
AAV2-sFLT01 is a vector that expresses a modified soluble Flt1 receptor designed to neutralize the proangiogenic activities of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) for treatment of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) via an intravitreal injection. Owing to minimal data available for the intravitreal route of administration for adeno-associated virus (AAV), we initiated a 12-month safety study of AAV2-sFLT01 administered intravitreally at doses of 2.4 × 10(9) vector genomes (vg) and 2.4 × 10(10) vg to cynomolgus monkeys. Expression of sFlt01 protein peaked at ~1-month postadministration and remained relatively constant for the remainder of the study. Electroretinograms, fluorescein angiograms, and tonometry were assessed every 3 months, with no test article-related findings observed in any group. Indirect ophthalmoscopy and slit lamp exams performed monthly revealed a mild to moderate but self-resolving vitreal inflammation in the high-dose group only, which follow-up studies suggest was directed against the AAV2 capsid. Histological evaluation revealed no structural changes in any part of the eye and occasional inflammatory cells in the trabecular meshwork, vitreous and retina in the high-dose group. Biodistribution analysis in rats and monkeys found only trace amounts of vector outside the injected eye. In summary, these studies found AAV2-sFLT01 to be well-tolerated, localized, and capable of long-term expression.
We recently reported the isolation and sequencing of 30 novel adenoviruses from chimpanzees, bonobos and gorillas. These adenoviruses are promising candidates for the purpose of expanding the repertoire of adenoviral serotypes that can be used to create vectors for circumventing pre-existing neutralizing antibodies in human populations. We thus aimed to create vectors from 20 of the newly isolated adenoviruses.
We conducted a study to evaluate the protective efficacy in mice of vaccination with novel adenovirus vectors expressing an influenza A nucleoprotein (AdFluA-NP) based on isolates from non-human primates. In a previous study, we had observed that AdFluA-NP vectors can induce similar T cell responses in mice yet differ in ability to protect animals from lethal challenge with influenza A virus. To better define correlates of protection, we extended our study design to include additional novel AdFluA-NP vectors, and to evaluate cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) responses in the spleens and lungs of immunized mice prior to virus challenge. As in our previous study, all vectors induced similar numbers of antigen-specific interferon gamma (IFNgamma) secreting T cells and memory T cells in the spleen 4 weeks post immunization, but differed in their ability to protect the animals from lethal infection. However, cytokine-secreting NP antigen-specific CTLs in the lungs of mice from immunization groups that survived lethal challenge showed greater proliferative ability and higher CD27 expression. In addition, NP antigen-specific peripheral blood lymphocytes from protected mice showed greater proliferative ability after ex vivo stimulation. Our results provide additional correlates of protection that should be considered when developing anti-influenza vaccines.
Vectors based on several new adeno-associated viral (AAV) serotypes demonstrated strong hepatocyte tropism and transduction efficiency in both small- and large-animal models for liver-directed gene transfer. Efficiency of liver transduction by AAV vectors can be further improved in both murine and nonhuman primate (NHP) animals when the vector genomes are packaged in a self-complementary (sc) format. In an attempt to understand potential molecular mechanism(s) responsible for enhanced transduction efficiency of the sc vector in liver, we performed extensive molecular studies of genome structures of conventional single-stranded (ss) and sc AAV vectors from liver after AAV gene transfer in both mice and NHPs. These included treatment with exonucleases with specific substrate preferences, single-cutter restriction enzyme digestion and polarity-specific hybridization-based vector genome mapping, and bacteriophage phi29 DNA polymerase-mediated and double-stranded circular template-specific rescue of persisted circular genomes. In mouse liver, vector genomes of both genome formats seemed to persist primarily as episomal circular forms, but sc vectors converted into circular forms more rapidly and efficiently. However, the overall differences in vector genome abundance and structure in the liver between ss and sc vectors could not account for the remarkable differences in transduction. Molecular structures of persistent genomes of both ss and sc vectors were significantly more heterogeneous in macaque liver, with noticeable structural rearrangements that warrant further characterizations.
Adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors hold great potential for liver-directed gene therapy. Stable and high levels of transgene expression have been achieved in many murine models. Systemic delivery of AAV vectors in nonhuman primates (NHPs) that are natural hosts of AAVs appear to be challenging due to the high prevalence of pre-existing neutralizing antibodies (NAbs). This study evaluates the performance of AAV8, hu.37, and rh.8 vectors expressing green fluorescent protein (GFP) from a liver-specific promoter in rhesus macaques. Two of the animals that received AAV8 showed transduction of 24 and 40% of hepatocytes 7 days after systemic vector delivery. Importantly, expression was detected in several animals after 35 days despite the elevation of liver enzymes and development of transgene-specific T cells in liver. Pre-existing low levels of NAbs profoundly impacted the outcome of gene transfer and redirected vector DNA to spleen. We developed a sensitive in vivo passive transfer assay to detect low levels of NAbs to these novel AAV serotypes. Other strategies need to be developed to reduce immune response to the transgene in order to maintain long-term gene expression.
Vectors based on adeno-associated viruses (AAVs) are being evaluated for use in liver-directed gene therapy. Candidates have been preselected on the basis of capsid structure that plays an important role in determining performance profiles. We describe a comprehensive and statistically powered set of mouse studies designed to compare the performance of vectors based on seven novel AAV capsids. The key criteria used to select candidates for successful gene therapy are high level and stable transgene expression in the absence of toxicity. Based on these criteria, the best performing vectors, AAV8, AAVhu.37, and AAVrh.8, will be further evaluated in nonhuman primates (NHPs).
We created a hybrid adeno-associated virus (AAV) from two related rhesus macaque isolates, called AAVrh32.33, and evaluated it as a vaccine carrier for human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and type A influenza virus antigens. The goal was to overcome the limitations of vaccines based on other AAVs, which generate dysfunctional T-cell responses and are inhibited by antibodies found in human sera. Injection of a Gag-expressing AAVrh32.33 vector into mice resulted in a high-quality CD8(+) T-cell response. The resulting Gag-specific T cells express multiple cytokines at high levels, including interleukin-2, with many having memory phenotypes; a subsequent boost with an adenovirus vector yielded a brisk expansion of Gag-specific T cells. A priming dose of AAVrh32.33 led to high levels of Gag antibodies, which exceed levels found after injection of adenovirus vectors. Importantly, passive transfer of pooled human immunoglobulin into mice does not interfere with the efficacy of AAVrh32.33 expressing nucleoproteins from influenza virus, as measured by protection to a lethal dose of influenza virus, which is consistent with the very low seroprevalence to this virus in humans. Studies of macaques with vectors expressing gp140 from HIV-1 (i.e., with AAVrh32.33 as the prime and simian adenovirus type 24 as the boost) demonstrated results similar to those for mice with high-level and high-quality CD8(+) T-cell responses to gp140 and high-titered neutralizing antibodies to homologous HIV-1. The biology of this novel AAV hybrid suggests that it should be a preferred genetic vaccine carrier, capable of generating robust T- and B-cell responses.
Alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency is well-suited as a target for human gene transfer. We performed a phase 1, open-label, dose-escalation clinical trial of a recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) vector expressing normal (M) AAT packaged into serotype 1 AAV capsids delivered by i.m. injection. Nine AAT-deficient subjects were enrolled sequentially in cohorts of 3 each at doses of 6.9 x 10(12), 2.2 x 10(13), and 6.0 x 10(13) vector genome particles per patient. Four subjects receiving AAT protein augmentation discontinued therapy 28 or 56 days before vector administration. Vector administration was well tolerated, with only mild local reactions and 1 unrelated serious adverse event (bacterial epididymitis). There were no changes in hematology or clinical chemistry parameters. M-specific AAT was expressed above background in all subjects in cohorts 2 and 3 and was sustained at levels 0.1% of normal for at least 1 year in the highest dosage level cohort, despite development of neutralizing antibody and IFN-gamma enzyme-linked immunospot responses to AAV1 capsid at day 14 in all subjects. These findings suggest that immune responses to AAV capsid that develop after i.m. injection of a serotype 1 rAAV vector expressing AAT do not completely eliminate transduced cells in this context.
Gene transfer to murine liver with vectors based on novel adeno-associated virus (AAV) serotypes is efficient, stable, and safe even in the setting of antigenic transgene products. We undertook a study in cynomolgus macaques to evaluate the relevance of these findings to primates. The vectors were based on AAV serotype 7 and expressed green fluorescence protein (GFP) from the cytomegalovirus enhanced beta-actin promoter in both single-stranded and self-complementary genomes. Transduction efficiencies from the single-stranded vectors were similar to those observed in mice, although there was no advantage in primates with the self-complementary vectors. Primates elicited vibrant cytotoxic T cell responses to GFP that correlated with hepatitis and loss of transgene expression. There was no evidence of T cell activation in response to the AAV capsid. These studies indicate that under some conditions primates may activate more robust T cell responses to transgene products than is observed in mice.
Recombinant adeno-associated viruses (AAVs) have unique gene-transfer properties that speak to their potential as carriers for gene therapy or vaccine applications. However, the presence of neutralizing antibodies to AAV as a result of previous exposure can significantly limit effective gene transfer. In this study, we obtained 888 human serum samples from healthy volunteers in 10 countries around the world. Samples were assayed for neutralizing antibodies to AAV1, AAV2, AAV7, and AAV8, as well as to a novel, structurally distinct AAV vector, rh32.33, in an in vitro transduction inhibition assay. Our data revealed that neutralizing antibodies to AAV2 were the most prevalent antibodies in all regions, followed by antibodies to AAV1. The seroprevalences of antibodies to AAV7 and to AAV8 were lower than that for antibodies to AAV1, and neutralization of AAVrh32.33 was only rarely detected. Our data also indicate a strong linkage of seroreactivity between apparently distinct serotypes that has not been predicted previously in animal models.
Adenoviruses are important human pathogens that have been developed as vectors for gene therapies and genetic vaccines. Previous studies indicated that human infections with adenoviruses are self-limiting in immunocompetent hosts with evidence of some persistence in adenoid tissue. We sought to better understand the natural history of adenovirus infections in various non-human primates and discovered that healthy populations of great apes (chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans) and macaques shed substantial quantities of infectious adenoviruses in stool. Shedding in stools from asymptomatic humans was found to be much less frequent, comparable to frequencies reported before. We purified and fully sequenced 30 novel adenoviruses from apes and 3 novel adenoviruses from macaques. Analyses of the new ape adenovirus sequences (as well as the 4 chimpanzee adenovirus sequences we have previously reported) together with 22 complete adenovirus genomes available from GenBank revealed that (a) the ape adenoviruses could clearly be classified into species corresponding to human adenovirus species B, C, and E, (b) there was evidence for intraspecies recombination between adenoviruses, and (c) the high degree of phylogenetic relatedness of adenoviruses across their various primate hosts provided evidence for cross species transmission events to have occurred in the natural history of B and E viruses. The high degree of asymptomatic shedding of live adenovirus in non-human primates and evidence for zoonotic transmissions warrants caution for primate handling and housing. Furthermore, the presence of persistent and/or latent adenovirus infections in the gut should be considered in the design and interpretation of human and non-human primate studies with adenovirus vectors.
Recent studies indicate that great apes and macaques chronically shed adenoviruses in the stool. Shedding of adenovirus in the stool of humans is less prevalent, although virus genomes persist in gut-associated lymphoid tissue in the majority of individual samples. Chimpanzees have high levels of broadly reactive neutralizing antibodies to adenoviruses in serum, with very low frequencies of adenovirus-specific T cells in peripheral blood. A similar situation exists in macaques; sampling of guts from macaques demonstrated adenovirus-specific T cells in lamina propria. Humans show intermediate levels of serum neutralizing antibodies, with adenovirus-specific T cells in peripheral blood of all individuals sampled and about 20% of samples from the gut, suggesting a potential role of T cells in better controlling virus replication in the gut. The overall structure of the E3 locus, which is involved in modulating the hosts response to infection, is degenerate in humans compared to that in apes, which may contribute to diminished evasion of host immunity. The impact of adenovirus persistence and immune responses should be considered when using adenoviral vectors in gene therapy and genetic vaccines.
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