Recombination-activating gene 1 (Rag1)-deficient mice with severe combined immunodeficiency treated with lentiviral gene therapy demonstrate autoimmune Omenn-like syndrome

Niek P. Van Til, Roya Sarwari, Trudi P. Visser, Julia Hauer, Chantal Lagresle-Peyrou, Guus Van Der Velden, Vidyasagar Malshetty, Patricia Cortes, Arnaud Jollet, Olivier Danos, Barbara Cassani, Fang Zhang, Adrian J. Thrasher, Elena Fontana, Pietro L. Poliani, Marina Cavazzana, Monique M.A. Verstegen, Anna Villa, Gerard Wagemaker

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55 Scopus citations


Background Recombination-activating gene 1 (RAG1) deficiency results in severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) caused by a complete lack of T and B lymphocytes. If untreated, patients succumb to recurrent infections. Objectives We sought to develop lentiviral gene therapy for RAG1-induced SCID and to test its safety. Methods Constructs containing the viral spleen-focus-forming virus (SF), ubiquitous promoters, or cell type-restricted promoters driving sequence-optimized RAG1 were compared for efficacy and safety in sublethally preconditioned Rag1-/- mice undergoing transplantation with transduced bone marrow progenitors. Results Peripheral blood CD3+ T-cell reconstitution was achieved with SF, ubiquitous promoters, and cell type-restricted promoters but 3- to 18-fold lower than that seen in wild-type mice, and with a compromised CD4+/CD8+ ratio. Mitogen-mediated T-cell responses and T cell-dependent and T cell-independent B-cell responses were not restored, and T-cell receptor patterns were skewed. Reconstitution of mature peripheral blood B cells was approximately 20-fold less for the SF vector than in wild-type mice and often not detectable with the other promoters, and plasma immunoglobulin levels were abnormal. Two months after transplantation, gene therapy-treated mice had rashes with cellular tissue infiltrates, activated peripheral blood CD44+CD69+ T cells, high plasma IgE levels, antibodies against double-stranded DNA, and increased B cell-activating factor levels. Only rather high SF vector copy numbers could boost T- and B-cell reconstitution, but mRNA expression levels during T- and B-cell progenitor stages consistently remained less than wild-type levels. Conclusions These results underline that further development is required for improved expression to successfully treat patients with RAG1-induced SCID while maintaining low vector copy numbers and minimizing potential risks, including autoimmune reactions resembling Omenn syndrome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1116-1123
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • Severe combined immunodeficiency
  • autoimmune reactions
  • lentiviral gene therapy


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