Impact of immunosuppressive drugs on the therapeutic efficacy of ex vivo expanded human regulatory T cells

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58 Citations (Scopus)


Immunosuppressive drugs in clinical transplantation are necessary to inhibit the immune response to donor antigens. Although they are effective in controlling acute rejection, they do not prevent long-term transplant loss from chronic rejection. Additionally, immunosuppressive drugs have adverse side effects, including increased rate of infections and malignancies. Adoptive cell therapy with human Tregs represents a promising strategy for the induction of transplantation tolerance. Phase I/II clinical trials in transplanted patients are already underway, involving the infusion of Tregs alongside concurrent Immunosuppressive drugs. However, it remains to be determined whether the presence of immunosuppressive drugs negatively impacts Treg function and stability. We tested in vitro and in vivo the effects of tacrolimus, mycophenolate and methyl-prednisolone, major ISDs used in transplantation, on ex vivo expanded, rapamycin-treated human Tregs. The in vitro results showed that these drugs had no effect on phenotype, function and stability of Tregs, although tacrolimus affected the expression of chemokine receptors and IL-10 production. However, viability and proliferative capacity were reduced in a dose dependent manner by all the three drugs. The in vivo experiments using a humanized-mouse model confirmed the in vitro results. However, treatment of mice with only rapamycin maintained the viability, function and proliferative ability of adoptively transferred Tregs. Altogether our results suggest that the key functions of ex vivo expanded Tregs are not affected by a concurrent immunosuppressive therapy. However, the choice of the drug combination and their timing and dosing should be considered as an essential component to induce and maintain tolerance by Treg.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-35
Number of pages35
Issue number1
Early online date15 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2015


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