Transient depletion of specific immune cell populations to improve adenovirus-mediated transgene expression in the liver

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Background & Aims:

Adenoviral (Ad) vectors are currently one of the most efficient tools for in vivo gene transfer to the liver. However, anti-Ad immune responses limit the safety and efficacy of these vectors. The initial inflammatory reaction is a concern in terms of toxicity, and it favours the development of cellular and humoral responses leading to short transgene persistence and inefficient vector re-administrations. Therefore, safe and simple ways to interfere with these processes are needed. Study ways to deplete specific immune cell populations and their impact on liver-directed gene transfer.


First-generation Ad vectors encoding reporter genes (luciferase or β-galactosidase) were injected intravenously into Balb/c mice. Kupffer cells and splenic macrophages were depleted by intravenous administration of clodronate liposomes. B lymphocytes, CD4+, CD8+ T lymphocytes or NK cells were depleted by intraperitoneal injection of anti-M plus anti-D, anti-CD4, anti-CD8 or anti-asialo-GM1 antibodies respectively. Long-term evolution of luciferase expression in the liver was monitored by bioluminescence imaging.


The anti-CD4 monoclonal antibody impaired cellular and humoral immune responses, leading to efficient vector re-administration. Clodronate liposomes had no impact on humoral responses but caused a 100–1000 fold increase in liver transduction, stabilized transgene expression, reduced the concentration of inflammatory cytokines, and inhibited lymphocyte activation.


Transient CD4+ T-cell depletion using antibodies is a clinically feasible procedure that allows efficient Ad redosing. Systemic administration of clodronate liposomes may further increase the safety and efficacy of vectors.

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