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Mol Ther. 2008 Jan;16(1):194-202. Epub 2007 Nov 6.

Generation of potent and stable human CD4+ T regulatory cells by activation-independent expression of FOXP3.

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Department of Surgery, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.


Therapies based on enhancing the numbers and/or function of T regulatory cells (Tregs) represent one of the most promising approaches to restoring tolerance in many immune-mediated diseases. Several groups have investigated whether human Tregs suitable for cellular therapy can be obtained by in vitro expansion, in vitro conversion of conventional T cells into Tregs, or gene transfer of the FOXP3 transcription factor. To date, however, none of these approaches has resulted in a homogeneous and stable population of cells that is as potently suppressive as ex vivo Tregs. We developed a lentivirus-based strategy to ectopically express high levels of FOXP3 that do not fluctuate with the state of T-cell activation. This method consistently results in the development of suppressive cells that are as potent as Tregs and can be propagated as a homogeneous population. Moreover, using this system, both naïve and memory CD4(+) T cells can be efficiently converted into Tregs. To date, this is the most efficient and reliable protocol for generating large numbers of suppressive CD4(+) Tregs, which can be used for further biological study and developed for antigen-specific cellular therapy applications.

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