Type 1 diabetes is characterized by destruction of insulin-producing β cells in the pancreatic islets by effector T cells. Tregs, defined by the markers CD4 and FoxP3, regulate immune responses by suppressing effector T cells and are recruited to sites of action by the chemokine CCL22. Here, we demonstrate that production of CCL22 in islets after intrapancreatic duct injection of double-stranded adeno-associated virus encoding CCL22 recruits endogenous Tregs to the islets and confers long-term protection from autoimmune diabetes in NOD mice. In addition, adenoviral expression of CCL22 in syngeneic islet transplants in diabetic NOD recipients prevented β cell destruction by autoreactive T cells and thereby delayed recurrence of diabetes. CCL22 expression increased the frequency of Tregs, produced higher levels of TGF-β in the CD4+ T cell population near islets, and decreased the frequency of circulating autoreactive CD8+ T cells and CD8+ IFN-γ–producing T cells. The protective effect of CCL22 was abrogated by depletion of Tregs with a CD25-specific antibody. Our results indicate that islet expression of CCL22 recruits Tregs and attenuates autoimmune destruction of β cells. CCL22-mediated recruitment of Tregs to islets may be a novel therapeutic strategy for type 1 diabetes.
Joel Montane, Loraine Bischoff, Galina Soukhatcheva, Derek L. Dai, Gijs Hardenberg, Megan K. Levings, Paul C. Orban, Timothy J. Kieffer, Rusung Tan, C. Bruce Verchere