Evaluation of Risks Related to the Use of Adeno-Associated Virus-Based Vectors
L. Tenenbaum, E. Lehtonen and P. E. Monahan
Affiliation: Institut de RechercheInterdisciplinaire en Biologie Humaine et Moleculaire, Laboratory ofExperimental Neurosurgery, ULB, Belgium
Recombinant AAV efficacy has been demonstrated in numerous gene therapy preclinical studies. As this vector is increasingly applied to human clinical trials, it is a priority to evaluate the risks of its use for workers involved in research and clinical trials as well as for the patients and their descendants. At high multiplicity of infection, wild-type AAV integrates into human chromosome 19 in ∼60% of latently infected cell lines. However, it has been recently demonstrated that only approximately 1 out of 1000 infectious units can integrate. The mechanism of this site-specific integration involves AAV Rep proteins which are absent in vectors. Accordingly, recombinant AAV (rAAV) do not integrate site-specifically. Random integration of vector sequences has been demonstrated in established cell lines but only in some cases and at low frequency in primary cultures and in vivo. In contrast, episomal concatemers predominate.Therefore, the risks of insertional mutagenesis and activation of oncogenes are considered low. Biodistribution studies in non-human primates after intramuscular, intrabronchial, hepatic artery and subretinal administration showed low and transient levels of vector DNA in body fluids and distal organs. Analysis of patients body fluids revealed rAAV sequences in urine, saliva and serum at short-term. Transient shedding into the semen has been observed after delivery to the hepatic artery. However, motile germ cells seemed refractory to rAAV infection even when directly exposed to the viral particles, suggesting that the risk of insertion of new genetic material into the germ line is absent or extremely low. Risks related to viral capsid-induced inflammation also seem to be absent since immune response is restricted to generation of antibodies. In contrast, transgene products can elicit both cellular and humoral immune responses, depending on the nature of the expressed protein and of the route of vector administration. Finally, a correlation between early abortion as well as male infertility and the presence of wt AAV DNA in the genital tract has been suggested. Although no causal relationship has been established, this issue stresses the importance of using rAAV stocks devoid of contaminating replication-competent AAV. This review comprehensively examines virus integration, biodistribution, immune interactions, and other safety concerns regarding the wild-type AAV and recombinant AAV vectors.
Keywords: deno-Associated Virus-Based, oncogenes, mutagenesis, hepatic artery, comprehensively, biodistribution
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