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Wolf-van Buerck, L.; Schuster, M.; Oduncu, F. S.; Bäehr, A.; Mayr, T.; Güthoff, S.; Abicht, J.; Reichart, B.; Klymiuk, N.; Wolf, E.; Seissler, J. (2017): LEA29Y expression in transgenic neonatal porcine islet-like cluster promotes long-lasting xenograft survival in humanized mice without immunosuppressive therapy. In: Scientific Reports, Vol. 7, 3572
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Abstract

Genetically engineered pigs are a promising source for islet cell transplantation in type 1 diabetes, but the strong human anti-pig immune response prevents its successful clinical application. Here we studied the efficacy of neonatal porcine islet-like cell clusters (NPICCs) overexpressing LEA29Y, a high-affinity variant of the T cell co-stimulation inhibitor CTLA-4Ig, to engraft and restore normoglycemia after transplantation into streptozotocin-diabetic NOD-SCID IL2r gamma(-/-)(NSG) mice stably reconstituted with a human immune system. Transplantation of INSLEA29Y expressing NPICCs resulted in development of normal glucose tolerance (70.4%) and long-term maintenance of normoglycemia without administration of immunosuppressive drugs. All animals transplanted with wild-type NPICCs remained diabetic. Immunohistological examinations revealed a strong peri- and intragraft infiltration of wildtype NPICCs with human CD45(+) immune cells consisting of predominantly CD4(+) and CD8(+) lymphocytes and some CD68(+) macrophages and FoxP3(+) regulatory T cells. Significantly less infiltrating lymphocytes and only few macrophages were observed in animals transplanted with INSLEA29Y transgenic NPICCs. This is the first study providing evidence that beta cell-specific LEA29Y expression is effective for NPICC engraftment in the presence of a humanized immune system and it has a long-lasting protective effect on inhibition of human anti-pig xenoimmunity. Our findings may have important implications for the development of a low-toxic protocol for porcine islet transplantation in patients with type 1 diabetes.