Transplant trials with Tregs: perils and promises

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Abstract

Modern immunosuppression regimens effectively control acute rejection and decrease graft loss in the first year after transplantation; however, these regimens do not have a durable effect on long-term graft survival owing to a combination of drug toxicities and the emergence of chronic alloimmune responses. Eliminating drugs and their toxicities while maintaining graft acceptance has been the primary aim of cellular therapies. Tregs suppress both autoimmune and alloimmune responses and are particularly effective in protecting allografts in experimental transplant models. Further, Treg-based therapies are selective, do not require harsh conditioning, and do not have a risk of graft-versus-host disease. Trial designs should consider the distinct immunological features of each transplanted organ, Treg preparations, dose, and frequency, and the ability to detect and quantify Treg effects in a given transplant environment. In this Review, we detail the ongoing clinical trials of Treg therapy in liver and kidney transplantation. Integration of Treg biology gleaned from preclinical models and experiences in human organ transplantation should allow for optimization of trial design that will determine the potential efficacy of a given therapy and provide guidelines for further therapeutic development.

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