Adeno-associated virus vector-mediated gene transfer into dystrophin-deficient skeletal muscles evokes enhanced immune response against the transgene product

K Yuasa, M Sakamoto, Y Miyagoe-Suzuki, A Tanouchi, H Yamamoto, J Li, J S Chamberlain, X Xiao, S Takeda
Gene Therapy 2002, 9 (23): 1576-88
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is an X-linked, lethal muscular disorder caused by a defect in the DMD gene. AAV vector-mediated micro-dystrophin cDNA transfer is an attractive approach to treatment of DMD. To establish effective gene transfer into skeletal muscle, we examined the transduction efficiency of an AAV vector in skeletal muscles of dystrophin-deficient mdx mice. When an AAV vector encoding the LacZ gene driven by a CMV promoter (AAV-CMVLacZ) was introduced, beta-galactosidase expression markedly decreased in mdx muscle 4 weeks after injection due to immune responses against the transgene product. We also injected AAV-CMVLacZ into skeletal muscles of mini-dystrophin-transgenic mdx mice (CVBA3'), which show ameliorated phenotypes without overt signs of muscle degeneration. AAV vector administration, however, evoked substantial immune responses in CVBA3' muscle. Importantly, AAV vector using muscle-specific MCK promoter also elicited responses in mdx muscle, but at a considerably later period. These results suggested that neo-antigens introduced by AAV vectors could evoke immune reactions in mdx muscle, since increased permeability allowed a leakage of neo-antigens from the dystrophin-deficient sarcolemma of muscle fibers. However, resident antigen-presenting cells, such as myoblasts, myotubes and regenerating immature myofibers, might also play a role in the immune response.

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