Introduction: The development of novel immunomodulatory strategies that might decrease the need for systemic immune suppression would greatly enable the utility of cell-based therapies. Cell transplantation on biomaterial scaffolds offers a unique opportunity to engineer a site to locally polarize immunogenic antigen generation. Herein, we investigated the localized delivery of IL-33, which is a novel cytokine that has been shown to have beneficial immunomodulatory effects in certain transplant models as mediating anti-inflammatory properties in the adipose tissue, to determine its feasibility for use as an immunomodulatory agent.
Results: Localized IL-33 delivery from poly(lactide-co-glycolide) (PLG) scaffolds implanted into the epididymal fat specifically increased the Foxp3+ population of CD4+ T cells in both blank scaffold implants and scaffolds seeded with allogeneic islets. In allogeneic islet transplantation, we found IL-33 delivery results in a local upregulation of graft-protective T cells where 80% of the local CD4+ population is Foxp3+ and overall numbers of graft destructive CD8+ T cells are decreased, resulting in a prolonged graft survival. Interestingly, local IL-33 also delayed islet engraftment by primarily inducing a local upregulation of Th2 cytokines, including IL-4 and IL-5, leading to increased populations of ST2+ Type 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2s) and Siglec F+ eosinophils.
Conclusions: These results suggest that local IL-33 delivery from biomaterial scaffolds can be used to increase Tregs enriched in adipose tissue and reduce graft-destructive T cell populations but may also promote innate cell populations that can delay cell engraftment.
Keywords: biomaterials; immunomodulation; interleukin-33; transplantation.