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Open Access Overexpression of Galectin-9 in Islets Prolongs Grafts Survival via Downregulation of Th1 Responses

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The differential activation of T helper (Th) cells and production of cytokines contribute to graft rejection or tolerance. In general, the Th1-type cytokines and cytotoxic T-cells are detected consistently in a host who is undergoing rejection, whereas Th2 responses are linked to a tolerance condition. Galectin-9 modulates Th1 cell immunity by binding to the T-cell immunoglobulin mucin-3 (Tim-3) molecule expressed on the Th1 cells. We investigate whether overexpression of galectin-9 in islets prolongs grafts survival in diabetic recipients. Islets were transduced with lentiviruses carrying galectin-9 and were then transplanted to streptozotocin-induced diabetic NOD/SCID recipients. The normoglycemic recipients then received splenocytes from diabetic NOD mice. Blood glucose concentration was monitored daily after adoptive transfer. The histology of the islet grafts and flow cytometric analyses were assessed at the end of the study. Overexpression of galectin-9 in islets prolonged graft survival in NOD/SCID mice after challenge with diabetogenic splenocytes (mean graft survival, 38.5 vs. 26.0 days, n=10, respectively; p=0.0096). The galectin-9-overexpressed grafts showed decreased infiltration of IFN-γ-producing CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells, but not of IL-17-producing CD4+ T-cells. Strikingly, this islet-specific genetic manipulation did not affect the systemic lymphocyte composition, indicating that galectin-9 may regulate T-cell-mediated inflammation in situ. We demonstrate that galectin-9 protects grafts from Th1 and Tc1 cell-mediated rejections, suggesting that galectin-9 has preventive and/or therapeutic benefit in transplant therapy for autoimmune diabetes and may be applied further to the transplantation of other organs or tissues.

Keywords: Autoimmune diabetes; Galectin-9; Islet transplantation; T helper 1 (Th1) cells; T-cell immunoglobulin mucin-3 (Tim-3)

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2013-11-05

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  • Cell Transplantation publishes original, peer-reviewed research and review articles on the subject of cell transplantation and its application to human diseases. To ensure high-quality contributions from all areas of transplantation, separate section editors and editorial boards have been established. Articles deal with a wide range of topics including physiological, medical, preclinical, tissue engineering, and device-oriented aspects of transplantation of nervous system, endocrine, growth factor-secreting, bone marrow, epithelial, endothelial, and genetically engineered cells, among others. Basic clinical studies and immunological research papers are also featured. To provide complete coverage of this revolutionary field, Cell Transplantation will report on relevant technological advances, and ethical and regulatory considerations of cell transplants. Cell Transplantation is now an Open Access journal starting with volume 18 in 2009, and therefore there will be an inexpensive publication charge, which is dependent on the number of pages, in addition to the charge for color figures. This will allow work to be disseminated to a wider audience and also entitle the corresponding author to a free PDF, as well as prepublication of an unedited version of the manuscript.
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