Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)

Combination Therapy Using IL-2/IL-2 Monoclonal Antibody Complexes, Rapamycin, and Islet Autoantigen Peptides Increases Regulatory T Cell Frequency and Protects against Spontaneous and Induced Type 1 Diabetes in Nonobese Diabetic Mice.

PMID 26482409


Regulatory T cells (Treg) play a crucial role in the maintenance of self-tolerance. In this study, we sought to expand Ag-specific Tregs in vivo and investigate whether the expanded Tregs can prevent or delay the development of type 1 diabetes (T1D) in the NOD mouse model. NOD mice were treated with a combination of IL-2/anti-IL-2 Ab complex, islet Ag peptide, and rapamycin. After the combined treatment, CD4(+)CD25(+)Foxp3(+) Tregs were significantly expanded in vivo, they expressed classical Treg markers, exerted enhanced suppressive functions in vitro, and protected against spontaneous development of T1D in NOD mice. Moreover, treated mice were almost completely protected from the adoptively transferred, aggressive form of T1D caused by in vitro-activated cytotoxic islet Ag-specific CD8 T cells. Protection from T1D was transferrable by Tregs and could be attributed to reduced islet infiltration of immune cells as well as the skewing of the immune response toward a Th2 cytokine profile. This new method of peripheral immune regulation could potentially contribute to development of novel immunotherapeutic strategies to prevent the development of T1D or to promote tolerance to islet transplants without using immunosuppressive drugs for long terms.