Immune depletion with cellular mobilization imparts immunoregulation and reverses autoimmune diabetes in nonobese diabetic mice

Parker MJ, Xue S, Alexander JJ, Wasserfall CH, Campbell-Thompson ML, Battaglia M, Gregori S, Mathews CE, Song S, Troutt M, Eisenbeis S, Williams J, Schatz DA, Haller MJ, Atkinson MA.
Source: Diabetes
Publication Date: (2009)
Issue: 58(10): 2277-84
OBJECTIVE: The autoimmune destruction of beta-cells in type 1 diabetes results in a loss of insulin production and glucose homeostasis. As such, an immense interest exists for the development of therapies capable of attenuating this destructive process through restoration of proper immune recognition. Therefore, we investigated the ability of the immune-depleting agent antithymocyte globulin (ATG), as well as the mobilization agent granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (GCSF), to reverse overt hyperglycemia in the nonobese diabetic (NOD) mouse model of type 1 diabetes. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: Effects of each therapy were tested in pre-diabetic and diabetic female NOD mice using measurements of glycemia, regulatory T-cell (CD4+CD25+Foxp3+) frequency, insulitis, and/or beta-cell area. RESULTS: Here, we show that combination therapy of murine ATG and GCSF was remarkably effective at reversing new-onset diabetes in NOD mice and more efficacious than either agent alone. This combination also afforded durable reversal from disease (>180 days postonset) in animals having pronounced hyperglycemia (i.e., up to 500 mg/dl). Additionally, glucose control improved over time in mice subject to remission from type 1 diabetes. Mechanistically, this combination therapy resulted in both immunological (increases in CD4-to-CD8 ratios and splenic regulatory T-cell frequencies) and physiological (increase in the pancreatic beta-cell area, attenuation of pancreatic inflammation) benefits. CONCLUSIONS: In addition to lending further credence to the notion that combination therapies can enhance efficacy in addressing autoimmune disease, these studies also support the concept for utilizing agents designed for other clinical applications as a means to expedite efforts involving therapeutic translation.