JOURNAL ARTICLE

Foxp3+ Treg expanded from patients with established diabetes reduce Helios expression while retaining normal function compared to healthy individuals

Weiting Du, Yueh-Wei Shen, Wen-Hui Lee, Ding Wang, Sachiko Paz, Fouad Kandeel, Chih-Pin Liu
PloS One 2013, 8 (2): e56209
23409157
Foxp3(+) regulatory T cells (Treg) play a crucial role in regulating immune tolerance. The use of Treg to restore immune tolerance is considered an attractive novel approach to inhibit autoimmune disease, including type 1 diabetes (T1D), and to prevent rejection of organ transplants. In view of the goal of developing autologous Treg-based cell therapy for patients with long-term (>15 years) T1D, it will be necessary to expand a sufficient amount of functional Treg in vitro in order to study and compare Treg from T1D patients and healthy subjects. Our results have demonstrated that there is a comparable frequency of Treg in the peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs) of patients with long-term T1D relative to those in healthy subjects; however, Th1 cells, but not Th17 cells, were increased in the T1D patients. Further, more Treg in PBLs from T1D patients than from healthy subjects expressed the CD45RO(+) memory cell phenotype, suggesting they were antigen-experienced cells. After isolation, Treg from both T1D patients and healthy subjects were successfully expanded with high purity. Although there was no difference in Helios expression on Treg in PBLs, in vitro expansion led to fewer Helios-expressing Treg from T1D patients than healthy subjects. While more Th1-like Treg expressing IFN-γ or TNF-α were found in the PBLs of T1D patients than healthy controls, there was no such difference in the expanded Treg. Importantly, expanded Treg from both subject groups were able to suppress autologous or allogeneic CD8(+) effector T cells equally well. Our findings demonstrate that a large number of ex vivo expanded functional Treg can be obtained from long-term T1D patients, although fewer expanded Treg expressed a high level of Helios. Thus, based on the positive outcomes, these potent expanded Treg from diabetic human patients may be useful in treating T1D or preventing islet graft rejection.

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