Background: We and others have previously demonstrated that treatment with bone marrow derived DC genetically modified to express IL-4 reduce disease pathology in mouse models of collagen-induced arthritis and delayed-type hypersensitivity. Moreover, treatment of normoglycemic NOD mice with bone marrow derived DC, genetically modified to express interleukin 4 (IL-4), reduces the onset of hyperglycemia in a significant number of animals. However, the mechanism(s) through which DC expressing IL-4 function to prevent autoimmune diabetes and whether this treatment can reverse disease in pre-diabetic NOD mice are unknown.
Methodology/principal findings: DC were generated from the bone marrow of NOD mice and transduced with adenoviral vectors encoding soluble murine IL-4 (DC/sIL-4), a membrane-bound IL-4 construct, or empty vector control. Female NOD mice were segregated into normoglycemic (<150 mg/dL) and prediabetic groups (between 150 and 250 mg/dL) on the basis of blood glucose measurements, and randomized for adoptive transfer of 10(6) DC via a single i.v. injection. A single injection of DC/sIL-4, when administered to normoglycemic 12-week old NOD mice, significantly reduced the number of mice that developed diabetes. Furthermore, DC/sIL-4, but not control DC, decreased the number of mice progressing to diabetes when given to prediabetic NOD mice 12-16 weeks of age. DC/sIL-4 treatment also significantly reduced islet mononuclear infiltration and increased the expression of FoxP3 in the pancreatic lymph nodes of a subset of treated animals. Furthermore, DC/sIL-4 treatment altered the antigen-specific Th2:Th1 cytokine profiles as determined by ELISPOT of splenocytes in treated animals.
Conclusions: Adoptive transfer of DC transduced to express IL-4 into both normoglycemic and prediabetic NOD mice is an effective treatment for T1D.