Controlling immune responses in autoimmunity and to biotherapeutics is an unmet need. In hemophilia, for example, up to one third of patients receiving therapeutic factor VIII (FVIII) infusions develop neutralizing Abs termed "inhibitors." To address this problem in a mouse model of hemophilia A, we used an Ag-specific regulatory T cell (Treg) approach in which we created a novel B cell-targeting chimeric receptor composed of an FVIII Ag domain linked with the CD28-CD3ζ transmembrane and signaling domains. We termed these "BAR" for B cell-targeting Ab receptors. CD4+CD25hiCD127low human Tregs were retrovirally transduced to express a BAR containing the immunodominant FVIII C2 or A2 domains (C2- and A2-BAR). Such BAR-Tregs specifically suppressed the recall Ab response of spleen cultures from FVIII-immunized mice in vitro and completely prevented anti-FVIII Ab development in response to FVIII immunization. Mechanistic studies with purified B cells and T cells from tolerized or control recipients demonstrated that the FVIII-specific B cells were directly suppressed or anergized, whereas the T cell response remained intact. Taken together, we report in this study a successful proof-of-principle strategy using Ag-expressing Tregs to directly target specific B cells, an approach which could be adapted to address other adverse immune responses as well.
J Immunol. 2018 Sep 1;201(5):1434-1441. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1701800. Epub 2018 Jul 18.