Oral immunotherapy (OIT) can successfully desensitize allergic individuals to offending foods such as peanut. Our recent clinical trial (NCT02103270) of peanut OIT allowed us to monitor peanut-specific CD4+ T cells, using MHC-peptide Dextramers, over the course of OIT. We used a single-cell targeted RNAseq assay to analyze these cells at 0, 12, 24, 52, and 104 weeks of OIT. We found a transient increase in TGFβ-producing cells at 52 weeks in those with successful desensitization, which lasted until 117 weeks. We also performed clustering and identified 5 major clusters of Dextramer+ cells, which we tracked over time. One of these clusters appeared to be anergic, while another was consistent with recently described TFH13 cells. The other 3 clusters appeared to be Th2 cells by their coordinated production of IL-4 and IL-13, but they varied in their expression of STAT signaling proteins and other markers. A cluster with high expression of STAT family members also showed a possible transient increase at week 24 in those with successful desensitization. Single cell TCRαβ repertoire sequences were too diverse to track clones over time. Together with increased TGFβ production, these changes may be mechanistic predictors of successful OIT that should be further investigated.
Keywords: CD4+ T cell; Food allergy; OIT; Peanut allergy; RNAseq; Single cell.
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