Immune evasion by muscle-specific gene expression in dystrophic muscle

Dennis Hartigan-O'Connor, Christopher J. Kirk, Robert Crawford, James J. Mulé, Jeffrey S. Chamberlain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


Muscle tissue from Duchenne muscular dystrophy patients and the Dmdmdx/mdx (hereafter referred to as mdx) mouse is characterized by an abundance of necrotic myofibers and infiltrating macrophages. Both features may provide additional stimulus to the immune response directed against novel antigens, such as those delivered by gene therapy vectors. It has previously been shown that the immune evasion achieved by adeno-associated virus in healthy muscle fails in one model of muscular dystrophy. Here, we examined the immune response to adenoviral vectors and their transgenes in normal and mdx mice. We found that mdx mouse muscles contain 20 times more macrophages and 7 times more dendritic cells than healthy muscles. This higher professional antigen-presenting cell content results in a stronger immune response to antigens that can be directly presented by those cells, including viral antigens and constitutively expressed transgene products. However, we did not detect a significant immune response to β-galactosidase expressed specifically in muscle, even at high expression levels. This result suggests that cross-presentation is not more effective in mdx mouse muscle, and that targeted vectors and tissue-specific promoters may be useful tools for evasion of the immune response in dystrophic muscle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)525-533
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Therapy
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Adenovirus
  • Antigen-presenting
  • Cross-presentation
  • Cross-priming
  • Dystrophin
  • Dystrophy
  • Gene therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology


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