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Enhancement of antigen-specific Treg vaccination in vivo

Daniel, Carolin, Wennhold, Kerstin, Kim, Hye-Jung, von Boehmer, Harald
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2010 v.107 no.37 pp. 16246-16251
DNA, T-lymphocytes, antigens, cell division, drugs, immune response, interleukin-10, mammals, methyltransferases, vaccination
The conversion of naive T cells into Treg can be achieved in vivo by delivery of antigen under subimmunogenic conditions. Here we have examined several drugs for their ability to enhance the conversion process in vivo and have found that the rapamycin analog everolimus potently enhances Treg conversion by interfering with T-cell costimulation, reducing cell division and thereby activation of DNA methyltransferase 1 as well as by reducing T-cell activation through the ATP-gated P2x7 receptor controlling Ca2⁺ influx. The resulting Tregs exhibit increased stability of Foxp3 expression even when generated in TGFβ-containing media in vitro. Thus the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitor everolimus in addition to inhibiting immune responses enhances Treg conversion by several distinct pathways. The converted Tregs can be further expanded by injection of IL-2/IL-2ab complexes. These complexes also increase the number of CD25⁺Foxp3⁻ cells that, however, do not represent cytokine secreting effector cells but anergic cells, some of which can secrete IL-10 and can themselves be considered regulatory T cells as well. The combined use of everolimus and IL-2/IL-2ab complexes in vivo makes it feasible to achieve highly effective antigen-driven conversion of naive T cells into Treg and their expansion in vivo and thereby the described protocols constitute important tools to achieve immunological tolerance by Treg vaccination.