Use of Polymeric Nanoparticle Platform Targeting the Liver To Induce Treg-Mediated Antigen-Specific Immune Tolerance in a Pulmonary Allergen Sensitization Model

ACS Nano. 2019 Apr 23;13(4):4778-4794. doi: 10.1021/acsnano.9b01444. Epub 2019 Apr 12.


Nanoparticles (NPs) can be used to accomplish antigen-specific immune tolerance in allergic and autoimmune disease. The available options for custom-designing tolerogenic NPs include the use of nanocarriers that introduce antigens into natural tolerogenic environments, such as the liver, where antigen presentation promotes tolerance to self- or foreign antigens. Here, we demonstrate the engineering of a biodegradable polymeric poly(lactic- co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) nanocarrier for the selective delivery of the murine allergen, ovalbumin (OVA), to the liver. This was accomplished by developing a series of NPs in the 200-300 nm size range as well as decorating particle surfaces with ligands that target scavenger and mannose receptors on liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs). LSECs represent a major antigen-presenting cell type in the liver capable of generating regulatory T-cells (Tregs). In vitro exposure of LSECs to NPOVA induced abundant TGF-β, IL-4, and IL-10 production, which was further increased by surface ligands. Animal experiments showed that, in the chosen size range, NPOVA was almost exclusively delivered to the liver, where the colocalization of fluorescent-labeled particles with LSECs could be seen to increase by surface ligand decoration. Moreover, prophylactic treatment with NPOVA in OVA-sensitized and challenged animals (aerosolized inhalation) could be seen to significantly suppress anti-OVA IgE responses, airway eosinophilia, and TH2 cytokine production in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. The suppression of allergic airway inflammation was further enhanced by attachment of surface ligands, particularly for particles decorated with the ApoB peptide, which induced high levels of TGF-β production in the lung along with the appearance of Foxp3+ Tregs. The ApoB-peptide-coated NPs could also interfere in allergic airway inflammation when delivered postsensitization. The significance of these findings is that liver and LSEC targeting PLGA NPs could be used for therapy of allergic airway disease, in addition to the potential of using their tolerogenic effects for other disease applications.

Keywords: LSECs; immune tolerance; immunosuppression; immunotherapy; nanoparticles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / administration & dosage*
  • Allergens / immunology
  • Animals
  • Antigen Presentation
  • Drug Carriers / chemistry
  • Drug Delivery Systems
  • Immune Tolerance*
  • Liver / immunology*
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry
  • Ovalbumin / administration & dosage*
  • Ovalbumin / immunology
  • Polylactic Acid-Polyglycolic Acid Copolymer / chemistry*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*


  • Allergens
  • Drug Carriers
  • Polylactic Acid-Polyglycolic Acid Copolymer
  • Ovalbumin