Induction of antigen-specific Treg cells in treating autoimmune uveitis via bystander suppressive pathways without compromising anti-tumor immunity

Zilin Chen, Tian Zhang, Hio Tong Kam, Dijie Qiao, Wenwen Jin, Yajie Zhong, Minyi Zhou, Hongyan Zhou, Wai Po Chong, Wanjun Chen*, Jun Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Induction of autoantigen-specific Treg cells that suppress tissue-specific autoimmunity without compromising beneficial immune responses is the holy-grail for immunotherapy to autoimmune diseases.

Methods: In a model of experimental autoimmune uveitis (EAU) that mimics human uveitis, ocular inflammation was induced by immunization with retinal antigen interphotoreceptor retinoid-binding protein (IRBP). Mice were given intraperitoneal injection of αCD4 antibody (Ab) after the onset of disease, followed by administration of IRBP. EAU was evaluated clinically and functionally. Splenocytes, CD4+CD25- and CD4+CD25+ T cells were sorted and cultured with IRBP or αCD3 Ab. T cell proliferation and cytokine production were assessed.

Findings: The experimental approach resulted in remission of ocular inflammation and rescue of visual function in mice with established EAU. Mechanistically, the therapeutic effect was mediated by induction of antigen-specific Treg cells that inhibited IRBP-driven Th17 response in TGF-β and IL-10 dependent fashion. Importantly, the Ab-mediated immune tolerance could be achieved in EAU mice by administration of retinal autoantigens, arrestin but not limited to IRBP only, in an antigen-nonspecific bystander manner. Further, these EAU-suppressed tolerized mice did not compromise their anti-tumor T immunity in melanoma model.

Interpretation: We successfully addressed a specific immunotherapy of EAU by in vivo induction of autoantigen-specific Treg cells without compromising host overall T cell immunity, which should have potential implication for patients with autoimmune uveitis.

Funding: This study was supported by the Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province and the Fundamental Research Fund of the State Key Laboratory of Ophthalmology, Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103496
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

User-Defined Keywords

  • Treg
  • autoantigen
  • immunotherapy
  • experimental autoimmune uveitis
  • tumor immunity


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