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In Vitro Platform Establishes Antigen-Specific CD8+ T Cell Cytotoxicity to Encapsulated Cells via Indirect Antigen Recognition

By Ying Li, Anthony W Frei, Ethan Y. Yang, Irayme Labrada-Miravet, Chuqiao Sun, Yanan Rong, Magdalena M Samojlik, Allison L. Bayer, Cherie L. Stabler

Posted 12 Dec 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2019.12.11.872978 (published DOI: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2020.120182)

Cell replacement therapy has the potential to cure diseases caused by the absence or malfunction of specialized cells. A substantial impediment to the success of any non-autologous cellular transplant is the need for systemic immunosuppressive drugs to prevent host-mediated rejection of the foreign cells. Cellular encapsulation, i.e., the entrapment of cells within stable polymeric hydrogels, has been clinically explored to prevent host immune recognition and attack, but the efficacy of these encapsulated grafts is poor. While several studies have explored improvements in innate immune acceptance of these encapsulated cells, little attention has been paid to the roles of adaptive immune responses, specifically graft-targeting T cell activation, in graft destabilization. Herein, we established an efficient, single-antigen in vitro platform capable of delineating direct and indirect host T cell recognition to microencapsulated cellular grafts and evaluating their consequential impacts. Using alginate as the model hydrogel, encapsulated membrane-bound ovalbumin (mOVA) stimulator cells were incubated with antigen-specific OTI lymphocytes and subsequent OVA-specific CD8+ T cell activation and effector function were quantified. We established that alginate microencapsulation abrogates direct T cell activation by interrupting donor-host interaction; however, indirect T cell activation mediated by host antigen presenting cells (APCs) primed with shed donor antigens still occurs. These activated T cells imparted cytotoxicity on the encapsulated cells, likely via diffusion of cytotoxic solutes. Overall, this platform delivers unique mechanistic insight into the impacts of hydrogel encapsulation on host adaptive immune responses, as well as a tool for the efficient immune screening on new encapsulation methods and/or synergistic immunomodulatory agents.

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