CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells (Treg’s) play a pivotal role in preventing organ-specific autoimmune diseases and in inducing tolerance to allogeneic organ transplants. We and others recently demonstrated that high numbers of Treg’s can also modulate graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) if administered in conjunction with allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in mice. In a clinical setting, it would be impossible to obtain enough freshly purified Treg’s from a single donor to have a therapeutic effect. Thus, we performed regulatory T cell expansion ex vivo by stimulation with allogeneic APCs, which has the additional effect of producing alloantigen-specific regulatory T cells. Here we show that regulatory T cells specific for recipient-type alloantigens control GVHD while favoring immune reconstitution. Irrelevant regulatory T cells only mediate a partial protection from GVHD. Preferential survival of specific regulatory T cells, but not of irrelevant regulatory T cells, was observed in grafted animals. Additionally, the use of specific regulatory T cells was compatible with some form of graft-versus-tumor activity. These data suggest that recipient-type specific Treg’s could be preferentially used in the control of GVHD in future clinical trials.
Aurélie Trenado, Frédéric Charlotte, Sylvain Fisson, Micael Yagello, David Klatzmann, Benoît L. Salomon, José L. Cohen