Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 34040605
Link to DOI – 10.3389/fimmu.2021.655478
Front Immunol 2021 ; 12(): 655478
Mucopolysaccharidosis type IIIB syndrome (Sanfilippo disease) is a rare autosomic recessif disorder caused by mutations in the α-N-acetylglucosaminidase (NAGLU) gene coding for a lysosomal enzyme, leading to neurodegeneration and progressive deterioration of cognitive abilities in affected children. To supply the missing enzyme, several recent human gene therapy trials relied on the deposit of adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors directly into the brain. We reported safety and efficacy of an intracerebral therapy in a phase 1/2 clinical trial (https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03300453), with a recombinant AAV serotype 2/5 (rAAV2/5) coding human NAGLU in four children with MPS IIIB syndrome receiving immunosuppression. It was reported that AAV-mediated gene therapies might elicit a strong host immune response resulting in decreased transgene expression. To address this issue, we performed a comprehensive analysis of cellular immunity and cytokine patterns generated against the therapeutic enzyme in the four treated children over 5.5 years of follow-up. We report the emergence of memory and polyfunctional CD4+ and CD8+ T lymphocytes sensitized to the transgene soon after the start of therapy, and appearing in peripheral blood in waves throughout the follow-up. However, this response had no apparent impact on CNS transgene expression, which remained stable 66 months after surgery, possibly a consequence of the long-term immunosuppressive treatment. We also report that gene therapy did not trigger neuroinflammation, evaluated through the expression of cytokines and chemokines in patients’ CSF. Milder disease progression in the youngest patient was found associated with low level and less differentiated circulating NAGLU-specific T cells, together with the lack of proinflammatory cytokines in the CSF. Findings in this study support a systematic and comprehensive immunomonitoring approach for understanding the impact immune reactions might have on treatment safety and efficacy of gene therapies.