Localized cytotoxic T cell-associated antigen 4 and antioxidant islet encapsulation alters macrophage signaling and induces regulatory and anergic T cells to enhance allograft survival

Am J Transplant. 2023 Jan 30;S1600-6135(23)00229-0. doi: 10.1016/j.ajt.2023.01.007. Online ahead of print.


The loss of functional β-cell mass is a hallmark of type 1 diabetes. Islet transplantation represents a promising alternative approach, but immune-mediated graft destruction remains a major challenge. We sought to use islet encapsulation technologies to improve graft survival and function without systemic immunosuppression. We hypothesized islet encapsulation with nanothin coatings consisting of tannic acid (TA), an antioxidant; poly(N-vinylpyrrolidone) (PVPON), a biocompatible polymer; and cytotoxic T cell-associated antigen 4 immunoglobulin (CTLA-4-Ig), an inhibitory immune receptor, will elicit localized immunosuppression to prolong islet allograft function and suppress effector T cell responses. In the absence of systemic immunosuppression, we demonstrated (PVPON/TA/CTLA-4-Ig)-encapsulated NOD.Rag islet grafts maintain function significantly longer than control IgG-containing (PVPON/TA/IgG) and nonencapsulated controls after transplantation into diabetic C57BL/6 mice. This protection coincided with diminished proinflammatory macrophage responses mediated by signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 signaling, decreased proinflammatory T cell effector responses, and CTLA-4-Ig-specific concomitant increases in anergic CD4+ T cells and regulatory T cells. Our results provide evidence that conjugation of CTLA-4-Ig to (PVPON/TA) coatings can suppress T cell activation, enhance regulatory T cell populations, prolong islet allograft survival, and induce localized immunosuppression after transplantation.

Keywords: cytotoxic T cell–associated antigen 4 immunoglobulin; encapsulation; islet transplantation; tannic acid; type 1 diabetes.