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PLoS One. 2011;6(12):e28948. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0028948. Epub 2011 Dec 14.

Common gamma chain cytokines promote rapid in vitro expansion of allo-specific human CD8+ suppressor T cells.

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Comprehensive Transplant Center, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois, United States of America.


Human CD8(+) regulatory T cells, particularly the CD8(+)CD28(-) T suppressor cells, have emerged as an important modulator of alloimmunity. Understanding the conditions under which these cells are induced and/or expanded would greatly facilitate their application in future clinical trials. In the current study, we develop a novel strategy that combines common gamma chain (γc) cytokines IL-2, IL-7 and IL-15 and donor antigen presenting cells (APCs) to stimulate full HLA-mismatched allogeneic human CD8(+) T cells which results in significant expansions of donor-specific CD8(+)CD28(-) T suppressor cells in vitro. The expanded CD8(+)CD28(-) T cells exhibit increased expressions of CTLA-4, FoxP3, and CD25, while down-regulate expressions of CD56, CD57, CD127, and perforin. Furthermore, these cells suppress proliferation of CD4(+) T cells in a contact-dependent and cytokine-independent manner. Interestingly, the specificity of suppression is restricted by the donor HLA class I antigens but promiscuous to HLA class II antigens, providing a potential mechanism for linked suppression. Taken together, our results demonstrate a novel role for common γc cytokines in combination with donor APCs in the expansion of donor-specific CD8(+)CD28(-) T suppressor cells, and represent a robust strategy for in vitro generation of such cells for adoptive cellular immunotherapy in transplantation.

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