Antigen-specific mediated suppression of beta cell autoimmunity by plasmid DNA vaccination.

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J Immunol 2001 Feb; 166(3):2122-32.




In this study, we have investigated the use of plasmid DNA (pDNA) vaccination to elicit Th2 effector cell function in an Ag-specific manner and in turn prevent insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) in nonobese diabetic (NOD) mice. pDNA recombinants were engineered encoding a secreted fusion protein consisting of a fragment of glutamic acid decarboxylase 65 (GAD65) linked to IgGFc, and IL-4. Intramuscular injection of pDNA encoding GAD65-IgGFc and IL-4 effectively prevented diabetes in NOD mice treated at early or late preclinical stages of IDDM. This protection was GAD65-specific since NOD mice immunized with pDNA encoding hen egg lysozyme-IgGFc and IL-4 continued to develop diabetes. Furthermore, disease prevention correlated with suppression of insulitis and induction of GAD65-specific regulatory Th2 cells. Importantly, GAD65-specific immune deviation was dependent on pDNA-encoded IL-4. In fact, GAD65-specific Th1 cell reactivity was significantly enhanced in animals immunized with pDNA encoding only GAD65-IgGFc. Finally, NOD.IL4(null) mice treated with pDNA encoding GAD65-IgGFc and IL-4 continued to develop diabetes, indicating that endogenous IL-4 was also required for disease prevention. These results demonstrate that pDNA vaccination is an effective strategy to elicit beta cell-specific Th2 regulatory cell function for the purpose of preventing IDDM even at a late stage of disease development.