Type 1 diabetes is characterized by a loss of tolerance to pancreatic β-cell autoantigens and defects in regulatory T-cell (Treg) function. In preclinical models, immunotherapy with MHC-selective, autoantigenic peptides restores immune tolerance, prevents diabetes, and shows greater potency when multiple peptides are used. To translate this strategy into the clinical setting, we administered a mixture of six HLA-DRB1*0401-selective, β-cell peptides intradermally to patients with recent-onset type 1 diabetes possessing this genotype in a randomized placebo-controlled study at monthly doses of 10, 100, and 500 μg for 24 weeks. Stimulated C-peptide (measuring insulin functional reserve) had declined in all placebo subjects at 24 weeks but was maintained at ≥100% baseline levels in one-half of the treated group. Treatment was accompanied by significant changes in islet-specific immune responses and a dose-dependent increase in Treg expression of the canonical transcription factor FOXP3 and changes in Treg gene expression. In this first-in-human study, multiple-peptide immunotherapy shows promise as a strategy to correct immune regulatory defects fundamental to the pathobiology of autoimmune diabetes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)722-732
Number of pages11
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022


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