Nanoparticle dose and antigen loading attenuate antigen-specific T-cell responses

Liam M. Casey, Joseph T. Decker, Joseph R. Podojil, Laila Rad, Kevin R. Hughes, Justin A. Rose, Ryan M. Pearson, Stephen D. Miller, Lonnie D. Shea*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Immune-mediated hypersensitivities such as autoimmunity, allergy, and allogeneic graft rejection are treated with therapeutics that suppress the immune system, and the lack of specificity is associated with significant side effects. The delivery of disease-relevant antigens (Ags) by carrier systems such as poly(lactide-co-glycolide) nanoparticles (PLG-Ag) and carbodiimide (ECDI)-fixed splenocytes (SP-Ag) has demonstrated Ag-specific tolerance induction in model systems of these diseases. Despite therapeutic outcomes by both platforms, tolerance is conferred with different efficacy. This investigation evaluated Ag loading and total particle dose of PLG-Ag on Ag presentation in a coculture system of dendritic cells (DCs) and Ag-restricted T cells, with SP-Ag employed as a control. CD25 expression was observed in nearly all T cells even at low concentrations of PLG-Ag, indicating efficient presentation of Ag by dendritic cells. However, the secretion of IL-2, Th1, and Th2 cytokines (IFNγ and IL-4, respectively) varied depending on PLG-Ag concentration and Ag loading. Concentration escalation of soluble Ag resulted in an increase in IL-2 and IFNγ and a decrease in IL-4. Treatment with PLG-Ag followed a similar trend but with lower levels of IL-2 and IFNγ secreted. Transcriptional Activity CEll ARrays (TRACER) were employed to measure the real-time transcription factor (TF) activity in Ag-presenting DCs. The kinetics and magnitude of TF activity was dependent on the Ag delivery method, concentration, and Ag loading. Ag positively regulated IRF1 activity and, as carriers, NPs and ECDI-treated SP negatively regulated this signaling. The effect of Ag loading and dose on tolerance induction were corroborated in vivo using the delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) and experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) mouse models where a threshold of 8 μg/mg Ag loading and 0.5 mg PLG-Ag dose were required for tolerance. Together, the effect of Ag loading and dosing on in vitro and in vivo immune regulation provide useful insights for translating Ag-carrier systems for the clinical treatment of immune disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)284-296
Number of pages13
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • autoimmune
  • nanoparticles
  • tolerance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biotechnology


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