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Keywords:

  • dendritic cells;
  • factor VIII;
  • FVIII inhibitors;
  • haemophilia A;
  • von Willebrand factor

Summary.  The development of inhibitory anti-factor VIII (FVIII) antibodies in patients with haemophilia A following replacement therapy is associated with several types of risk factors. Among these, the purity of FVIII concentrates, and in particular the presence of von Willebrand factor (VWF), was controversially proposed to influence the immunogenicity of exogenous FVIII. We re-assessed in vivo and in vitro the immuno-protective effect of VWF towards FVIII. The immuno-protective effect of VWF towards FVIII was investigated in vivo, in a model of haemophilia A. We studied the endocytosis of FVIII by murine bone marrow-derived dendritic cells and evaluated the capacity of VWF to block the internalization of FVIII. We characterized the relevance of VWF for the accumulation of FVIII in the marginal zone of the spleen, a secondary lymphoid organ where the immune response to therapeutically administered FVIII initiates. Our results confirm that VWF reduces the immunogenicity of FVIII in FVIII-deficient mice. Paradoxically, VWF is important for the accumulation of FVIII in the marginal zone of the spleen. We propose that VWF exerts at least two non-mutually exclusive immunoprotective roles towards FVIII in haemophilic mice: VWF prevents the endocytosis of FVIII by professional antigen-presenting cells by blocking the interaction of FVIII with as yet unidentified endocytic receptor(s). Hypothetically, VWF, by virtue of increasing the half-life of FVIII in the circulation, may allow an increased contact time with tolerogenic marginal zone B cells in the spleen.