2023 journal article
AAV-mediated expression of HLA-G for the prevention of experimental ocular graft vs. host disease
Molecular Therapy - Methods & Clinical Development.
Ocular graft versus host disease (OGvHD) develops after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) and manifests as ocular surface inflammatory disease. This study evaluated the efficacy of adeno-associated virus (AAV) gene therapy encoding human leukocyte antigen G (HLA-G) to inhibit OGvHD. A major histocompatibility mismatch chronic OGvHD murine model was evaluated. 7 days after HSCT, mice were dosed subconjunctivally with scAAV8-HLA-G1/5 (1 x 109 vg/eye), topical cyclosporine (twice daily), or left untreated. Body weights and tear production (red thread test) were recorded, and eyelid, corneal opacity, and corneal fluorescein retention were scored through day 44 after HSCT. Tissues were collected for vector biodistribution, ocular histology, and immunofluorescence. Compared with untreated HSCT eyes, those dosed with scAAV8-HLA-G1/5 had significantly reduced clinical inflammatory signs of OGvHD. On histology, eyes that received scAAV8-HLA-G1/5 or cyclosporine had a significantly lower mean limbal mononuclear cell count when compared with non-treated HSCT eyes. HLA-G immunofluorescence was detected in the subconjunctiva and peripheral cornea in HSCT animals treated with scAAV8-HLA-G1/5. Vector genomes were detected in the lacrimal gland, but not in the other tested organs. These results provide evidence that subconjunctival AAV targets ocular surface and corneal disease and support that HLA-G-based gene therapy may be an effective treatment for OGvHD.