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Eur Respir J. 1998 Feb;11(2):492-7.

Respiratory muscles as a target for adenovirus-mediated gene therapy.

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Dept of Medicine, Royal Victoria Hospital, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


The protein dystrophin is absent in the muscles of patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) as well as dystrophin-deficient mice with muscular dystrophy (mdx mice). The mdx mouse diaphragm closely resembles the human DMD phenotype and thus provides a useful model for studies of dystrophin gene replacement. Recombinant adenovirus vectors (AdVs) hold promise as a means for delivering a functional dystrophin gene to muscle. As an initial step toward this goal, we have determined the efficiency and functional consequences of AdV-mediated reporter gene transfer to the diaphragm in both normal and mdx adult mice. At 1 week after AdV administration, there was a high level of transgene expression in the diaphragm. One month later, however, elimination of transgene expression was observed along with a significant decrease in force production by both normal and mdx diaphragms. Immunosuppression with cyclosporine did not augment the level of transgene expression, but a beneficial effect on diaphragm force-generating capacity was observed in both groups of animals. In order to further elucidate the cellular mechanisms underlying these findings, the effects of AdV gene inactivation (by ultraviolet (UV) irradiation) and interference with host T-lymphocyte subsets were examined. Both UV-inactivation of AdV and CD8+ T-cell deficiency were found to significantly alleviate AdV-induced reductions in diaphragm force-generating capacity. Brief (2 day) administration of a neutralizing antibody against host CD4+ T-cells also produced a trend towards mitigation of AdV-induced contractile dysfunction. In addition, transgene expression one month after AdV delivery was significantly enhanced with inhibition of either CD4+ or CD8+ T-cell function. The data suggest two major sources of reduced force generation after recombinant adenovirus vector-mediated gene transfer to muscle: 1) a cytotoxic component associated with recombinant adenovirus vector transcriptional activity; and 2) an immune-based component of more delayed onset that is primarily dependent upon CD8+ T-cell activity. These results have important implications for the design of future generation vectors and the potential need for immunosuppressive therapy after recombinant adenovirus vector mediated dystrophin gene transfer to Duchenne muscular dystrophy patients.

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