Controlled Delivery of Immunomodulators from a Biomaterial Scaffold Niche to Induce a Tolerogenic Phenotype in Human Dendritic Cells

Sangeetha Srinivasan, Julia E Babensee
ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering 2020 July 13, 6 (7): 4062-4076
Engineering a regulatory phenotype in dendritic cells (DCs) is a potential approach to circumvent an immune response against self-antigens in autoimmunity or alloantigens in allograft rejection. Cell microenvironments influence the differentiation of DC precursors into either proinflammatory/immunostimulatory or tolerogenic/regulatory DCs. Biomaterial-based vehicles can be used to re-engineer cell microenvironments and re-educate the DC phenotype. This study presents the development and validation of a biomaterial-based multicomponent immunomodulatory (MI) scaffold for the purpose of promoting a tolerogenic/regulatory DC phenotype. Glutaraldehyde-crosslinked gelatin microparticles, loaded with specific immunomodulators, were embedded into a porous agarose scaffold. Using the Weibull equation and the Bayesian approach, an empirical mathematical model was derived from the release profile data of "model" molecules. The scaffold design was generated from the model to achieve distinct temporal release profiles of the loaded immunomodulator(s): granulocyte monocyte colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), dexamethasone (DEX), and/or peptidoglycan (PGN). The MI scaffold-treated DCs (MI DCs) showed an increase in the expression of tolerogenic markers such as surface immunoglobulin-like transcript 3 (ILT-3) and secreted interleukin-10 (IL-10), with a simultaneous decrease in maturation markers such as CD86 and secreted interferon-γ (IFN-γ). In cell culture studies, these MI DCs were able to suppress T-cell proliferation. This approach is expected to enhance the generation of endogenous regulatory DCs when applied in vivo . This technology serves as a basis for future immunotherapeutic applications in the autoimmunity and allogeneic therapies. It also shows that empirical mathematical modeling can be used to engineer scaffold designs for distinct temporal release of one or more immunomodulators.

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