The Challenge for Gene Therapy: Innate Immune Response to Adenoviruses

Bart Thaci, Ilya V. Ulasov, Derek V. Wainwright and Maciej S. Lesniak _

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Oncotarget. 2011; 2:113-121. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.231

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Bart Thaci, Ilya V. Ulasov, Derek A. Wainwright, and Maciej S. Lesniak

*The Brain Tumor Center, The University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, 5841 South Maryland Ave, M/C 3026, Chicago, IL 60637

Keywords: Adenovirus, interferon, interleukin-1, innate immune response

Received: January 25, 2011; Accepted: March 4, 2011; Published: March 5, 2011;


Maciej S. Lesniak, e-mail:


Adenoviruses are the most commonly used vectors for gene therapy. Despite the promising safety profile demonstrated in clinical trials, the efficacy of using adenoviruses for gene therapy is poor. A major hurdle to adenoviral-mediated gene therapy is the innate immune system. Cell-mediated recognition of viruses via capsid components or nucleic acids has received significant attention, principally thought to be regulated by the toll-like receptors (TLRs). Antiviral innate immune responses are initiated by the infected cell, which activates the interferon (IFN) response to block viral replication, while simultaneously releasing chemokines to attract neutrophils, mononuclear- and natural killer-cells. While the IFN and cellular recruitment pathways are activated and regulated independently of each other, both are required to overcome immune escape mechanisms by adenoviruses. Recent work has shown that the generation of adenoviral vectors lacking specific transcriptionally-active regions decreases immune system activation and increases the chance for immune escape. In this review, we elucidate how adenoviral vector modifications alter the IFN and innate inflammatory pathway response and propose future targets with clinically-translational relevance.

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