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Diabetes. 2012 May;61(5):1180-91. doi: 10.2337/db11-1306. Epub 2012 Mar 8.

Adoptive transfer with in vitro expanded human regulatory T cells protects against porcine islet xenograft rejection via interleukin-10 in humanized mice.

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  • 1Centre for Transplant and Renal Research, Westmead Millennium Institute, Westmead Hospital, Westmead, New South Wales, Australia.


T cell-mediated rejection remains a barrier to the clinical application of islet xenotransplantation. Regulatory T cells (Treg) regulate immune responses by suppressing effector T cells. This study aimed to determine the ability of human Treg to prevent islet xenograft rejection and the mechanism(s) involved. Neonatal porcine islet transplanted NOD-SCID IL2rγ(-/-) mice received human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) with in vitro expanded autologous Treg in the absence or presence of anti-human interleukin-10 (IL-10) monoclonal antibody. In addition, human PBMC-reconstituted recipient mice received recombinant human IL-10 (rhIL-10). Adoptive transfer with expanded autologous Treg prevented islet xenograft rejection in human PBMC-reconstituted mice by inhibiting graft infiltration of effector cells and their function. Neutralization of human IL-10 shortened xenograft survival in mice receiving human PBMC and Treg. In addition, rhIL-10 treatment led to prolonged xenograft survival in human PBMC-reconstituted mice. This study demonstrates the ability of human Treg to prevent T-cell effector function and the importance of IL-10 in this response. In vitro Treg expansion was a simple and effective strategy for generating autologous Treg and highlighted a potential adoptive Treg cell therapy to suppress antigraft T-cell responses and reduce the requirement for immunosuppression in islet xenotransplantation.

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