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Applicability, Safety And Biological Activity Of Regulatory T Cell Therapy In Liver Transplantation

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Alberto Sánchez-Fueyo, Gavin Whitehouse, Nathali Grageda, Matthew E Cramp, Tiong Y Lim, Marco Romano, Sarah Thirkell, Katie Lowe, Laura Fry, Julie Heward, Alex Kerr, Jakia Ali, Chris Fisher, Gillian Lewis, Andrew Hope, Elisavet Kodela, Mike Lyne, Farzin Farzaneh, Shahram Kordasti, Irene Rebollo-Mesa & 5 more Juan Jose Lozano, Niloufar Safinia, Robert Lechler, Marc Martínez-Llordella, Giovanna Lombardi

Bibliographical note

© 2019 The American Society of Transplantation and the American Society of Transplant Surgeons.


King's Authors


Regulatory T cells (Tregs) are a lymphocyte subset with intrinsic immunosuppressive properties that can be expanded in large numbers ex vivo and have been shown to prevent allograft rejection and promote tolerance in animal models. To investigate the safety, applicability and biological activity of autologous Treg adoptive transfer in humans, we conducted an open-label, dose escalation, Phase I clinical trial in liver transplantation. Patients were enrolled while awaiting liver transplantation or 6-12 months post-transplant. Circulating Tregs were isolated from blood or leukapheresis, expanded under GMP conditions, and administered i.v at either 0.5-1 million Tregs/kg or 3-4.5 million Tregs/kg. The primary endpoint was the rate of dose limiting toxicities occurring within 4 weeks of infusion. The applicability of the clinical protocol was poor unless patient recruitment was deferred until 6-12 months post-transplantation. Thus, only 3 out of the 17 patients consented while awaiting liver transplantation were dosed. In contrast, all 6 patients consented 6-12 months post-transplantation received the cell infusion. Treg transfer was safe and transiently increased the pool of circulating Tregs and reduced anti-donor T cell responses. Our study opens the door to employing Treg immunotherapy to facilitate the reduction or complete discontinuation of immunosuppression following liver transplantation.

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