Induction and maintenance of immune tolerance to therapeutic transgene products are key requirements for successful gene replacement therapies. Gene transfer may also be used to specifically induce immune tolerance and thereby augment other types of therapies. Similarly, gene therapies for treatment of autoimmune diseases are being developed in order to restore tolerance to self-antigens. Regulatory T cells have emerged as key players in many aspects of immune tolerance, and a rapidly increasing body of work documents induction and/or activation of regulatory T cells by gene transfer. Regulatory T cells may suppress antibody formation and cytotoxic T cell responses and may be critical for immune tolerance to therapeutic proteins. In this regard, CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells have been identified as important components of tolerance in several gene transfer protocols, including hepatic in vivo gene transfer. Augmentation of regulatory T cell responses should be a promising new tool to achieve tolerance and avoid immune-mediated rejection of gene therapy. During the past decade, it has become obvious that immune regulation is an important and integral component of tolerance to self-antigens and of many forms of induced tolerance. Gene therapy can only be successful if the immune system does not reject the therapeutic transgene product. Recent studies provide a rapidly growing body of evidence that regulatory T cells (Treg) are involved and often play a crucial role in tolerance to proteins expressed by means of gene transfer. This review seeks to provide an overview of these data and their implications for gene therapy.
Keywords: antigen presenting cells, Th2 cells, coagulation factor, immune response, transplantation tolerance
Rights & PermissionsPrintExport