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Purpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether clinical grade recombinant adeno-associated virus serotype 8 (rAAV8) leads to increased appearance of hyper-reflective foci (HRF) in the retina of non-human primates (NHPs) following subretinal gene therapy injection. Methods: Different doses of rAAV8 vector (rAAV8. human phosphodiesterase 6A subunit (hPDE6A) at low dose: 1 × 1011 vector genomes (vg), medium dose: 5 × 1011 vg, or high dose: 1 × 1012 vg) were injected subretinally into the left eyes of NHPs in a formal toxicology study in preparation of a clinical trial. Right eyes received sham-injection. After 3 months of in vivo, follow-up retinal sections were obtained and analyzed. The number of HRF on spectral domain-optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) volume scans were counted from both eyes at 30 and 90 days. Results: Animals from the high-dose group showed more HRF than in the low (P = 0.03) and medium (P = 0.01) dose groups at 90 days. There was a significant increase in the mean number of HRF in rAAV8-treated eyes compared with sham-treated eyes at 90 days (P = 0.02). Sham-treated eyes demonstrated a nonsignificant reduction of HRF numbers over time. In contrast, a significant increase over time was observed in the rAAV8-treated eyes of the high dose group (P = 0.001). The presence of infiltrating B- and T-cells and microglia activation were detected in rAAV8-treated eyes. Conclusions: Some HRF in the retina appear to be related to the surgical trauma of subretinal injection. Although HRF in sham-treated retina tends to become less frequent over time, they accumulate in the high-dose rAAV8-treated eyes. This may suggest a sustained immunogenicity when subretinal injections of higher doses of rAAV8 vectors are applied, but it has lower impact when using more clinically relevant doses (low and medium groups). Translational Relevance: An increase or persistence of HRFs following retinal gene therapy may indicate the need for immunomodulatory treatment.

Original publication




Journal article


Transl Vis Sci Technol

Publication Date





Animals, Dependovirus, Genetic Therapy, Primates, Retina, Tomography, Optical Coherence