Multiple infusions of ex vivo-expanded regulatory T cells promote CD163 + myeloid cells and kidney allograft survival in non-lymphodepleted non-human primates.
Clinical verification of adoptively transferred regulatory T cell (Treg) efficacy in transplantation remains challenging. Here, we examined the influence of autologous ex vivo-expanded polyclonal Tregs on kidney graft survival in a clinically relevant non-human primate model. Peripheral blood Tregs were isolated and expanded using artificial antigen presenting cells. Immunosuppression was comprised of tapered tacrolimus and CTLA4 immunoglobulin, in five animals each without or with Treg infusions. Escalating Treg doses were administered 6, 10, 13, 16, 20, 23, 27 and 30 days after transplant. Infused Tregs were monitored for Treg signature, anti-apoptotic (Bcl-2) and proliferation (Ki67) marker expression. Treg infusions prolonged median graft survival time significantly from 35 to 70 days. Treg marker (Ki67 and Bcl-2) expression by infused Tregs diminished after their infusion but remained comparable to that of circulating native Tregs. No major changes in circulating donor-reactive T cell responses or total Treg percentages, or in graft-infiltrating T cell subsets were observed with Treg infusion. However, Treg infusion was associated with significant increases in CD163 expression by circulating HLA-DR+ myeloid cells and elevated levels of circulating soluble CD163. Further, graft-infiltrating CD163+ cells were increased with Treg infusion. Thus, multiple Treg infusions were associated with M2-like myeloid cell enhancement that may mediate immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory and graft reparative effects.
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