Antigen-specific T cell tolerance holds great promise for the treatment of autoimmune diseases. However, strategies to induce durable tolerance using high doses of soluble antigen have to date been unsuccessful, due to lack of efficacy and the risk of hypersensitivity. In the current study we have overcome these limitations by developing a platform for tolerance induction based on engineering the immunoglobulin Fc region to modulate the dynamic properties of low doses (1 μg/mouse; ∼50 μg/kg) of Fc-antigen fusions. Using this approach, we demonstrate that antigen persistence is a dominant factor governing the elicitation of tolerance in the model of multiple sclerosis (MS), experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), induced by immunizing B10.PL mice with the N-terminal epitope of myelin basic protein. Unexpectedly, our analyses reveal a stringent threshold of antigen persistence for both prophylactic and therapeutic treatments, although distinct mechanisms lead to tolerance in these two settings. Importantly, the delivery of tolerogenic Fc-antigen fusions during ongoing disease results in the downregulation of T-bet and CD40L combined with amplification of Foxp3(+) T cell numbers. The generation of effective, low dose tolerogens using Fc engineering has potential for the regulation of autoreactive T cells.
Keywords: Autoimmunity; CD4(+) T cells; EAE; Fc engineering; FcRn; Tolerance.
Copyright © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.