Product(s) used in this publication: PepMix™ Peptide Pools
Adeno-Associated Virus (AAV)-based gene therapy vectors are in development for many inherited human disorders. In nonclinical studies, cellular immune responses mediated by cytotoxic T cells may target vector-transduced cells, which could impact safety and efficacy. Here, we describe the bioanalytical validation of an interferon-gamma (IFN-γ)-based Enzyme-Linked Immunospot (ELISpot) assay for measuring T cell responses against viral antigens in cynomolgus monkeys. Since ELISpots performed with antigen-derived peptides offer a universal assay format, method performance characteristics were validated using widely available peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) responsive to cytomegalovirus peptides. The limit of detection and confirmatory cut point were established using statistical methods; precision, specificity, and linearity were confirmed. Monkey PBMCs from an AAV5 gene therapy study were then analyzed, using peptide pools spanning the vector capsid and transgene product. AAV5-specific T cell responses were detected only in 2 of 18 monkeys at Day 28, but not at Day 13 and 56 after vector administration, with no correlation to liver enzyme elevations or transgene expression levels. No transgene product-specific T cell responses occurred. In conclusion, while viral peptide-specific IFN-γ ELISpots can be successfully validated for monkey PBMCs, monitoring peripheral T cell responses in non-clinical AAV5 gene therapy studies was of limited value to interpret safety or efficacy.