First published October 3, 2019 - More info
Islet transplantation can restore lost glycemic control in type 1 diabetes subjects, but is restricted in its clinical application by limiting supplies of islets and the need for heavy immune suppression to prevent rejection. TNFAIP3, encoding the ubiquitin editing enzyme A20, regulates the activation of immune cells by raising NF-κB signalling thresholds. Here we show that increasing A20 expression in allogeneic islet grafts resulted in permanent survival for approximately 45% of recipients, and > 80% survival when combined with subtherapeutic rapamycin. Allograft survival was dependent upon regulatory T cells, was antigen-specific and grafts showed reduced expression of inflammatory factors. Transplantation of islets with A20 containing a loss-of-function variant (I325N) resulted in increased RIPK1 ubiquitination and NF-κB signalling, graft hyper-inflammation and acute allograft rejection. Overexpression of A20 in human islets potently reduced expression of inflammatory mediators with no impact on glucose stimulated insulin secretion. Therapeutic administration of A20 raises inflammatory signalling thresholds to favour immune tolerance and promotes islet allogeneic survival. Clinically this would allow for reduced immunosuppression and support the use of alternate islet sources.