Programming of Regulatory T Cells In Situ for Nerve Regeneration and Long-Term Patency of Vascular Grafts

Research (Wash D C). 2022 Jul 19;2022:9826426. doi: 10.34133/2022/9826426. eCollection 2022.


Rapid integration into the host tissue is critical for long-term patency after small diameter tissue engineering vascular grafts (sdTEVGs) transplantation. Neural recognition may be required for host integration and functionalization of the graft. However, immune rejection and inflammation hinder nerve regeneration of sdTEVGs. Here, a CRISPR/dCas9-nanocarrier was used for targeted programming of regulatory T cells (Treg cells) in situ to promote nerve regeneration of sdTEVGs by preventing excessive inflammation. Treg cells and (C-C chemokine receptor) CCR2+ macrophage recruitment occurred after transplantation. The nanodelivery system upregulated ten eleven translocation (TET2) in Treg cells in vitro. Reprogrammed Treg cells upregulated anti-inflammatory cytokines and decreased the proportion of CCR2+ macrophages. IL-6 concentrations decreased to the levels required for nerve regeneration. Implantation of CRISPR/dCas9 nanodelivery system-modified sdTEVGs in rats resulted in Treg cell editing, control of excessive inflammation, and promoted nerve regeneration. After 3 months, nerve regeneration was similar to that observed in normal blood vessels; good immune homeostasis, consistency of hemodynamics, and matrix regeneration were observed. Neural recognition promotes further integration of the graft into the host, with unobstructed blood vessels without intimal hyperplasia. Our findings provide new insights into vascular implant functionalization by the host.