Memory and naïve gamma delta regulatory T-cell gene expression in the first 24-weeks of peanut oral immunotherapy

Clin Immunol. 2021 Sep:230:108820. doi: 10.1016/j.clim.2021.108820. Epub 2021 Aug 6.


Background: Peanut oral immunotherapy (POIT) has provided desensitization to peanut allergic individuals. Limited immunological evaluation exists during the first 24-weeks of POIT.

Objective: Regulatory T-cells (Tregs) are antigen induced immunosuppressive T-cells important in establishing tolerance. Delineation of early immunologic changes contributing to the development of peanut desensitization would help clarify the mechanism of action in POIT. We performed single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNAseq) on Tregs in pediatric subjects undergoing POIT during the first 24-weeks of therapy to evaluate early immunological changes induced by POIT.

Methods: PBMC samples from peanut allergic subjects between 5 and 12 years of age enrolled in a Phase 1/2a POIT study were collected and analyzed at 0, 6, and 24-weeks after POIT initiation and samples were compared to healthy non-peanut allergic controls. Tregs were enriched from PBMCs and scRNAseq analysis performed. Cell Ranger 3.1.0 (10× Genomics) was utilized to identify cell clusters and differentially expressed genes, and results were analyzed with Seurat suite version 3.0.0.

Results: Gene analysis revealed 10 major clusters corresponding to different cell types observed to change during POIT when compared to the healthy, non-peanut-allergic state. scRNAseq analysis of Tregs revealed strong CD3G expression correlating with gdTregs. scRNAseq analysis of gdTregs revealed dynamic changes occurring within the first 6-weeks of treatment and cell frequencies of naïve and memory gdTregs at 24-weeks of treatment reducing to levels similar to healthy controls. Analysis of transcriptomic cell identity analysis using SingleR showed gene expression in gdTregs similar to healthy control after 24-weeks of POIT treatment. scRNAseq analysis revealed alterations in gene expression for memory and naïve gdTregs during this timeframe. Specifically, expression of OX40R (TNFRSF4), GITR (TNFRSF18), TGFB1, CTLA4, ISG20, CD69 were upregulated in memory gdTregs compared to naive gdTregs by 24-weeks of POIT, while IL7R and SELL were downregulated in memory gdTregs compared to naïve gdTregs.

Conclusions: There are specific expression profiles of peripheral naïve and mature gdTreg cells in peanut allergic patients undergoing POIT in the first 24-weeks of treatment implicating pathways involved in maintenance of immune homeostasis. gdTreg cells may contribute to the tolerogenic effect of POIT within the first 24-weeks of POIT treatment. These findings suggest that gdTregs cells may be an early marker of desensitization in subjects undergoing POIT.

Keywords: Desensitization; Food allergy; Gamma-delta Tregs (gdTregs); Peanut allergy; Peanut oral immunotherapy (POIT); Pediatric; Regulatory T-cells (Tregs).

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase I
  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Allergens / administration & dosage
  • Arachis / immunology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Desensitization, Immunologic / methods*
  • Genes, T-Cell Receptor delta*
  • Genes, T-Cell Receptor gamma*
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Memory
  • Multigene Family
  • Peanut Hypersensitivity / genetics
  • Peanut Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Peanut Hypersensitivity / therapy*
  • RNA-Seq
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta / immunology
  • Single-Cell Analysis
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*
  • Time Factors
  • Transcriptome


  • Allergens
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta