Targeting acute allograft rejection by immunotherapy with ex vivo-expanded natural CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells

Guliang Xia, Jie He, Zheng Zhang, Joseph R. Leventhal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND. Natural CD4CD25 regulatory T (Treg) cells have been implicated in suppressing alloreactivity in vitro and in vivo. We hypothesized that immunotherapy using ex vivo-expanded natural Treg could prevent acute allograft rejection in mice. METHODS. Natural CD4CD25 Treg were freshly purified from naive mice via automated magnetic cell sorter and expanded ex vivo by anti-CD3/CD28 monoclonal antibody (mAb)-coated Dynabeads. Suppression was assayed in vitro by mixed lymphocyte reaction and in vivo by targeting cardiac allograft rejection. Survival of Treg or effector T (Teff) cells after adoptive transfer in vivo was tracked by flow cytometry and all allografts were examined by histology and immunohistochemistry. RESULTS. By day nine in culture, 26.6±5.3-fold of expansion was achieved by co-culture of fresh natural Treg with anti-CD3/CD28 mAb-coated Dynabeads and interleukin-2. Ex vivo-expanded Treg exerted stronger suppression than fresh ones towards alloantigens in vitro and prevented CD4 Teff-mediated but only delayed CD4/CD8 Teff-mediated heart allograft rejection in Rag mice. Long-term surviving allografts showed no signs of acute or chronic rejection with graft-infiltrating Treg expressing CD25 and FoxP3. Infused Treg persisted and expanded long-term in vivo and trafficked through the peripheral lymphoid tissues. CD25 expression was dynamic in vivo: maintained CD25 expression on Treg was indicative for the preservation of allosuppression, while significantly enhanced CD25 expression on CD4 effector T cells was most likely associated with T-cell expansion and graft rejection. CONCLUSIONS. Therapeutic use of ex vivo-expanded natural CD4CD25 Treg may be a feasible and nontoxic modality for controlling allograft rejection or perhaps inducing allograft tolerance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1749-1755
Number of pages7
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2006


  • Allograft
  • Ex vivo expansion
  • Natural CD4CD25
  • Rejection
  • Tolerance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transplantation


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