Developing in vitro expanded CD45RA+ regulatory T cells as an adoptive cell therapy for Crohn's disease

James B. Canavan, Cristiano Scottà, Anna Vossenkämper, Rimma Goldberg, Matthew J. Elder, Irit Shoval, Ellen Marks, Emilie Stolarczyk, Jonathan W. Lo, Nick Powell, Henrieta Fazekasova, Peter M. Irving, Jeremy D. Sanderson, Jane K. Howard, Simcha Yagel, Behdad Afzali, Thomas T. MacDonald, Maria P. Hernandez-Fuentes, Nahum Y. Shpigel, Giovanna LombardiGraham M. Lord*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

152 Citations (Scopus)
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Background and aim Thymus-derived regulatory T cells (Tregs) mediate dominant peripheral tolerance and treat experimental colitis. Tregs can be expanded from patient blood and were safely used in recent phase 1 studies in graft versus host disease and type 1 diabetes. Treg cell therapy is also conceptually attractive for Crohn's disease (CD). However, barriers exist to this approach. The stability of Tregs expanded from Crohn's blood is unknown. The potential for adoptively transferred Tregs to express interleukin-17 and exacerbate Crohn's lesions is of concern. Mucosal T cells are resistant to Treg-mediated suppression in active CD. The capacity for expanded Tregs to home to gut and lymphoid tissue is unknown. 

Methods To define the optimum population for Treg cell therapy in CD, CD4+CD25+CD127loCD45RA+ and CD4+CD25+CD127loCD45RA-Treg subsets were isolated from patients' blood and expanded in vitro using a workflow that can be readily transferred to a good manufacturing practice background. 

Results Tregs can be expanded from the blood of patients with CD to potential target dose within 22-24 days. Expanded CD45RA+ Tregs have an epigenetically stable FOXP3 locus and do not convert to a Th17 phenotype in vitro, in contrast to  CD45RA-Tregs.  CD45RA+ Tregs highly express α4β7 integrin, CD62L and CC motif receptor (CCR7).  CD45RA+ Tregs also home to human small bowel in a C.B-17 severe combined immune deficiency (SCID) xenotransplant model. Importantly, in vitro expansion enhances the suppressive ability of CD45RA+ Tregs. These cells also suppress activation of lamina propria and mesenteric lymph node lymphocytes isolated from inflamed Crohn's mucosa. 

Conclusions CD4+CD25+CD127loCD45RA+Tregs may be the most appropriate population from which to expand  Tregs for autologous  Treg therapy for CD, paving the way for future clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)584-594
Number of pages11
Issue number4
Early online date24 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - 9 Mar 2016


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