Adoptive immunotherapy with Tregs is a promising approach for preventing or treating type 1 diabetes. Islet antigen-specific Tregs have more potent therapeutic effects than polyclonal cells, but their low frequency is a barrier for clinical application. To generate Tregs that recognize islet antigens, we engineered a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) derived from a monoclonal antibody with specificity for the insulin B chain 10-23 peptide presented in the context of the IAg7 MHC class II allele present in NOD mice. Peptide specificity of the resulting InsB-g7 CAR was confirmed by tetramer staining and T cell proliferation in response to recombinant or islet-derived peptide. The InsB-g7 CAR redirected NOD Treg specificity such that insulin B 10-23-peptide stimulation enhanced suppressive function, measured via reduction of proliferation and IL-2 production by BDC2.5 T cells and CD80 and CD86 expression on dendritic cells. Cotransfer of InsB-g7 CAR Tregs prevented adoptive transfer diabetes by BDC2.5 T cells in immunodeficient NOD mice. In WT NOD mice, InsB-g7 CAR Tregs prevented spontaneous diabetes. These results show that engineering Treg specificity for islet antigens using a T cell receptor-like CAR is a promising therapeutic approach for the prevention of autoimmune diabetes.
Keywords: Autoimmunity; Diabetes; Immunology; Immunotherapy; Tolerance.