Engineered ovalbumin-expressing regulatory T cells protect against anaphylaxis in ovalbumin-sensitized mice

Maha Abdeladhim, Ai Hong Zhang, Laura E. Kropp, Alyssa R. Lindrose, Shivaprasad H. Venkatesha, Edward Mitre, David W. Scott*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Allergy is a major public health concern, the main treatment for which is symptomatic relief with anti-inflammatory drugs. A key clinical challenge is to induce specific tolerance in order to control allergen-specific memory B and T cells, and specifically block effector cell responses. Our lab recently developed antigen-specific regulatory T-cell (Treg) therapies as a treatment for adverse responses. Recently, we created a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) approach in which we engineered a target protein antigen, ovalbumin (OVA), linked with the transmembrane and signal transduction domains, CD28-CD3ζ to directly target B cells and sensitized mast cells in an allergy model. We named this receptor “BAR” for B-cell Antibody Receptor. Murine or human Tregs, transduced with a BAR containing OVA or control Tregs expressing an unrelated antigen, were successfully expanded in vitro and tested in the murine OVA-alum allergy model with measurable titers of anti-OVA IgE. Because BAR Tregs express the target antigen and could interact with specific IgE on sensitized mast cells, we first demonstrated that intravenously injected OVA-BAR Tregs did not directly lead to a drop in temperature or release of mediators in plasma indicative of anaphylaxis. Forty-eight hours later, mice were challenged intraperitoneally with 200 μg OVA to induce an anaphylactic reaction, and temperature immediately measured for 30 min. We found that OVA-BAR Tregs protected mice from hypothermia, whereas mice given control BARs (expressing an unrelated antigen) or PBS showed substantial temperature drops indicative of anaphylaxis when systemically challenged with OVA. Importantly, this effect was also demonstrated in a passive anaphylaxis model in which mice that received anti-OVA IgE antibody were protected from hypothermia when treated with OVA-BAR Tregs prior to systemic OVA challenge. These results provide proof of principle that engineered allergen-specific T-regulatory cells can provide clinical protection against severe allergic reactions in individuals already IgE-sensitized to an allergen.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-54
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Immunology
StatePublished - Oct 2019
Externally publishedYes


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