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Mol Ther. 2010 Mar;18(3):609-16. doi: 10.1038/mt.2009.279. Epub 2009 Dec 1.

Induction of shock after intravenous injection of adenovirus vectors: a critical role for platelet-activating factor.

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  • 1Division of Cellular and Gene Therapies, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.


Innate immune responses are a major barrier to safe systemic gene therapy with adenovirus (Ad) vectors. We show that intravenous (IV) injection of rats with Ad5 vectors causes a novel rapid shock reaction that involves hypotension, hemoconcentration, tissue edema, and vasocongestion, with notable pathology in the pancreas and the gastrointestinal system. We show for the first time that this reaction is dependent on platelet-activating factor (PAF), a lipid signaling molecule that is a known shock inducer. Ad upregulated PAF within 5 minutes in vivo, and antagonists of the PAF receptor were able to prevent Ad-induced shock. Ad upregulated PAF via the reticuloendothelial system (RES), because splenectomy or depletion of phagocytes blocked the ability of Ad to induce both PAF and shock. Rats were considerably more sensitive to Ad-induced shock than were mice, but PAF mediated shock in both species. Other Ad-induced innate immune responses such as cytokine induction and thrombocytopenia were not mediated by PAF. In summary, systemic IV injection of Ad stimulates the RES to upregulate PAF within a matter of minutes, which results in shock. The identification of this novel pathway suggests strategies to improve the safety of systemic gene therapy with Ad vectors.

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