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Hum Gene Ther. 1994 Oct;5(10):1217-29.

Prolonged transgene expression in cotton rat lung with recombinant adenoviruses defective in E2a.

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Institute for Human Gene Therapy, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia 19104-4268.


Recombinant adenoviruses have tremendous potential for gene therapy of cystic fibrosis (CF) lung disease. First-generation recombinant viruses, rendered replication defective by deleting E1, have been associated with high-level recombinant gene expression in airway epithelial cells when administered directly to the lung. Experience in mice and non-human primates indicates that transgene expression is transient (i.e., lasting less than 21 days) and associated with the development of inflammation. We suggest an hypothesis to explain these findings that is based on expression of viral proteins in genetically modified cells that leads to destructive cellular immune responses and repopulation of lung epithelia with non-transgene-containing cells. This hypothesis has been evaluated in the current study using the cotton rat model. Instillation of the first-generation lacZ virus, H5.010CBlacZ, into cotton rat airway led to high-level gene expression in conducting and respiratory airway that was transient and associated with a substantial mononuclear, CD8-dominated, infiltrates. Treatment of the animals with cyclosporine blunted the inflammatory response and prolonged recombinant gene expression in both conducting and respiratory airways. Expression of viral early and late genes was detected in a subpopulation of lacZ-expressing epithelial cells of conducting airway and alveoli. Instillation of virus into cotton rat tracheal xenografts grown in athymic nu/nu mice led to efficient and stable transgene expression in the absence of pathology, underscoring the importance of T cell-mediated immunity. A recombinant adenovirus was constructed that is disabled in its capacity to replicate by the introduction of a temperature-sensitive mutation in the E2a gene as well deletion of E1 sequences. Instillation of this virus into cotton rat airway led to high-level transgene expression that was more stable than that achieved with the first-generation virus and was associated with less early and late gene expression as well as a diminished infiltration of CD8+ T cells in conducting airway epithelium. Interestingly, the introduction of the E2a mutation had no effect on the persistence of transgene expression, the pattern of late viral gene expression, nor the CD8+ T cell response within alveolar cells. These data suggest that cell-specific variation in the cell biology of recombinant adenoviruses exists in the lung. The present studies in cotton rats confirm the role of cellular immunity in the biology of adenovirus-mediated gene therapy to the lung and suggest that modifications in the design of recombinant adenoviruses to minimize or ablate transgene expression will be useful in improving the potential of this technology for gene therapy of CF.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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