Molecular therapy : the journal of the American Society of Gene Therapy

Perforin gene transfer into hematopoietic stem cells improves immune dysregulation in murine models of perforin deficiency.

PMID 25523759


Defects in perforin lead to the failure of T and NK cell cytotoxicity, hypercytokinemia, and the immune dysregulatory condition known as familial hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (FHL). The only curative treatment is allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation which carries substantial risks. We used lentiviral vectors (LV) expressing the human perforin gene, under the transcriptional control of the ubiquitous phosphoglycerate kinase promoter or a lineage-specific perforin promoter, to correct the defect in different murine models. Following LV-mediated gene transfer into progenitor cells from perforin-deficient mice, we observed perforin expression in mature T and NK cells, and there was no evidence of progenitor cell toxicity when transplanted into irradiated recipients. The resulting perforin-reconstituted NK cells showed partial recovery of cytotoxicity, and we observed full recovery of cytotoxicity in polyclonal CD8(+) T cells. Furthermore, reconstituted T cells with defined antigen specificity displayed normal cytotoxic function against peptide-loaded targets. Reconstituted CD8(+) lymphoblasts had reduced interferon-γ secretion following stimulation in vitro, suggesting restoration of normal immune regulation. Finally, upon viral challenge, mice with >30% engraftment of gene-modified cells exhibited reduction of cytokine hypersecretion and cytopenias. This study demonstrates the potential of hematopoietic stem cell gene therapy as a curative treatment for perforin-deficient FHL.