Allogeneic Mature Human Dendritic Cells Generate Superior Alloreactive Regulatory T Cells in the Presence of IL-15

Nicolle H R Litjens, Karin Boer, Joke M Zuijderwijk, Mariska Klepper, Annemiek M A Peeters, Errol P Prens, Wenda Verschoor, Rens Kraaijeveld, Zeliha Ozgur, Mirjam C van den Hout-van Vroonhoven, Wilfred F J van IJcken, Carla C Baan, Michiel G H Betjes
Journal of Immunology 2015 June 1, 194 (11): 5282-93
Expansion of Ag-specific naturally occurring regulatory T cells (nTregs) is required to obtain sufficient numbers of cells for cellular immunotherapy. In this study, different allogeneic stimuli were studied for their capacity to generate functional alloantigen-specific nTregs. A highly enriched nTreg fraction (CD4(+)CD25(bright)CD127(-) T cells) was alloantigen-specific expanded using HLA-mismatched immature, mature monocyte-derived dendritic cells (moDCs), or PBMCs. The allogeneic mature moDC-expanded nTregs were fully characterized by analysis of the demethylation status within the Treg-specific demethylation region of the FOXP3 gene and the expression of both protein and mRNA of FOXP3, HELIOS, CTLA4, and cytokines. In addition, the Ag-specific suppressive capacity of these expanded nTregs was tested. Allogeneic mature moDCs and skin-derived DCs were superior in inducing nTreg expansion compared with immature moDCs or PBMCs in an HLA-DR- and CD80/CD86-dependent way. Remarkably, the presence of exogenous IL-15 without IL-2 could facilitate optimal mature moDC-induced nTreg expansion. Allogeneic mature moDC-expanded nTregs were at low ratios (<1:320), potent suppressors of alloantigen-induced proliferation without significant suppression of completely HLA-mismatched, Ag-induced proliferation. Mature moDC-expanded nTregs were highly demethylated at the Treg-specific demethylation region within the FOXP3 gene and highly expressed of FOXP3, HELIOS, and CTLA4. A minority of the expanded nTregs produced IL-10, IL-2, IFN-γ, and TNF-α, but few IL-17-producing nTregs were found. Next-generation sequencing of mRNA of moDC-expanded nTregs revealed a strong induction of Treg-associated mRNAs. Human allogeneic mature moDCs are highly efficient stimulator cells, in the presence of exogenous IL-15, for expansion of stable alloantigen-specific nTregs with superior suppressive function.

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