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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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J Virol 2009 Jun;83(11):5648-58

Adenovirus activates complement by distinctly different mechanisms in vitro and in vivo: indirect complement activation by virions in vivo.

Tian J, Xu Z, Smith JS, Hofherr SE, Barry MA, Byrnes AP


Understanding innate immunity is key to improving the safety of adenovirus (Ad) vectors for systemic gene therapy. Ad has been shown to activate complement in vitro, but activation of complement after Ad injection in vivo has not been directly measured. Using complement protein C3a as a marker of complement activation, we show that type 2 and 5 human Ads cause rapid complement activation after intravenous injection in mice. Unexpectedly, the mechanisms in vivo were different than those in vitro. Antibodies were critical for the activation of complement by Ad in vitro, but antibodies were not required in vivo. The classical pathway was required in vitro whereas complement activation in vivo involved both classical and non-classical pathways as well as the reticuloendothelial system. Remarkably, the entry-deficient Ad mutant ts1 was completely unable to activate complement in vivo even though it was fully able to activate complement in vitro. This demonstrates that the complement system senses intravenously-injected Ad primarily by detecting the effects of Ad on cells, rather than through direct interaction of complement with virions. Encouragingly, shielding Ad with polyethylene glycol was effective at reducing complement activation both in vitro and in vivo. In sum, intravenously-injected Ad rapidly activates complement through multiple pathways, but these pathways are different than those identified by in vitro studies. In vitro studies are poorly predictive of in vivo mechanisms because Ad virions activate complement through indirect mechanisms in vivo.

Category: Journal Article
PubMed ID: #19321608 DOI: 10.1128/JVI.00082-09
Includes FDA Authors from Scientific Area(s): Biologics
Entry Created: 2011-10-04 Entry Last Modified: 2012-08-29