In vivo induction of regulatory T cells promotes allergen tolerance and suppresses allergic contact dermatitis

J Control Release. 2017 Sep 10;261:223-233. doi: 10.1016/j.jconrel.2017.07.006. Epub 2017 Jul 8.


Allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) is a common T-cell mediated inflammatory skin condition, characterized by an intensely pruritic rash at the site of contact with allergens like poison ivy or nickel. Current clinical treatments use topical corticosteroids, which broadly and transiently suppress inflammation and symptoms of ACD, but fail to address the underlying immune dysfunction. Here, we present an alternative therapeutic approach that teaches the immune system to tolerate contact allergens by expanding populations of naturally suppressive allergen-specific regulatory T cells (Tregs). Specifically, biodegradable poly(ethylene glycol)-poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PEG-PLGA) microparticles were engineered to release TGF-β1, Rapamycin, and IL-2, to locally sustain a microenvironment that promotes Treg differentiation. By expanding allergen-specific Tregs and reducing pro-inflammatory effector T cells, these microparticles inhibited destructive hypersensitivity responses to subsequent allergen exposure in an allergen-specific manner, effectively preventing or reversing ACD in previously sensitized mice. Ultimately, this approach to in vivo Treg induction could also enable novel therapies for transplant rejection and autoimmune diseases.

Keywords: Delayed type hypersensitivity; Immune tolerance; Immunotherapy; Microparticles; Regulatory T cells; Sustained release.

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / immunology
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / therapy*
  • Female
  • Immune Tolerance*
  • Interleukin-2 / administration & dosage
  • Interleukin-2 / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Congenic
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Polyesters / chemistry
  • Polyethylene Glycols / chemistry
  • Sirolimus / administration & dosage
  • Sirolimus / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1 / administration & dosage
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1 / immunology


  • Allergens
  • Interleukin-2
  • Polyesters
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1
  • polyethylene glycol-poly(lactide-co-glycolide)
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • Sirolimus