T cell depletion is commonly used in organ transplantation for immunosuppression; however, a restoration of T cell homeostasis following depletion leads to increased memory T cells, which may promote transplant rejection. The cytokine IL-7 is important for controlling lymphopoiesis under both normal and lymphopenic conditions. Here, we investigated whether blocking IL-7 signaling with a mAb that targets IL-7 receptor α (IL-7Rα) alone or following T cell depletion confers an advantage for allograft survival in murine transplant models. We found that IL-7R blockade alone induced indefinite pancreatic islet allograft survival if anti–IL-7R treatment was started 3 weeks before graft. IL-7R blockade following anti-CD4– and anti-CD8–mediated T cell depletion markedly prolonged skin allograft survival. Furthermore, IL-7 inhibition in combination with T cell depletion synergized with either CTLA-4Ig administration or suboptimal doses of tacrolimus to induce long-term skin graft acceptance in this stringent transplant model. Together, these therapies inhibited T cell reconstitution, decreased memory T cell numbers, increased the relative frequency of Tregs, and abrogated both cellular and humoral alloimmune responses. Our data suggest that IL-7R blockade following T cell depletion has potential as a robust, immunosuppressive therapy in transplantation.
Hoa-Le Mai, Françoise Boeffard, Julie Longis, Richard Danger, Bernard Martinet, Fabienne Haspot, Bernard Vanhove, Sophie Brouard, Jean-Paul Soulillou
IL-7R blockade started 3 weeks before graft induces islet allograft tolerance and abrogates both cellular and humoral alloimmune responses.