A combination treatment (CT) of proinsulin and IL-10 orally delivered via genetically modified Lactococcus lactis bacteria combined with low-dose anti-CD3 (aCD3) therapy successfully restores glucose homeostasis in newly diagnosed non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice. Tolerance is accompanied by the accumulation of Foxp3+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) in the pancreas. To test the potential of this therapy outside the window of acute diabetes diagnosis, we substituted autoimmune diabetic mice, with disease duration varying between 4 and 53 days, with syngeneic islets at the time of therapy initiation. Untreated islet recipients consistently showed disease recurrence after 8.2 ± 0.7 days, while 32% of aCD3-treated and 48% of CT-treated mice remained normoglycemic until 6 weeks after therapy initiation (P < 0.001 vs. untreated controls for both treatments, P < 0.05 CT vs. aCD3 therapy). However, mice that were diabetic for more than 2 weeks before treatment initiation were less efficient at maintaining normoglycemia than those treated within 2 weeks of diabetes diagnosis, particularly in the aCD3-treated group. The complete elimination of endogenous beta cell mass with alloxan at the time of diabetes diagnosis pointed toward the significance of continuous feeding of the islet antigen proinsulin at the time of aCD3 therapy for treatment success. The CT providing proinsulin protected 69% of mice, compared to 33% when an irrelevant antigen (ovalbumin) was combined with aCD3 therapy, or to 27% with aCD3 therapy alone. Sustained tolerance was accompanied with a reduction of IGRP+CD8+ autoreactive T cells and an increase in insulin-reactive (InsB12–20 or InsB13–2) Foxp3+CD4+ Tregs, with a specific accumulation of Foxp3+ Tregs around the insulin-containing islet grafts after CT with proinsulin. The combination of proinsulin and IL-10 via oral Lactococcus lactis with low-dose aCD3 therapy can restore tolerance to beta cells in autoimmune diabetic mice, also when therapy is started outside the window of acute diabetes diagnosis, providing persistence of insulin-containing islets or prolonged beta cell function.
- Endokrinologi och diabetes