Molecular Medicine

, Volume 17, Issue 9–10, pp 1000–1011 | Cite as

α-1-Antitrypsin Gene Delivery Reduces Inflammation, Increases T-Regulatory Cell Population Size and Prevents Islet Allograft Rejection

  • Galit Shahaf
  • Hadas Moser
  • Eyal Ozeri
  • Mark Mizrahi
  • Avishag Abecassis
  • Eli C. Lewis
Research Article


Antiinflammatory clinical-grade, plasma-derived human α-1 antitrypsin (hAAT) protects islets from allorejection as well as from autoimmune destruction. hAAT also interferes with disease progression in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) and in collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) mouse models. hAAT increases IL-1 receptor antagonist expression in human mononuclear cells and T-regulatory (Treg) cell population size in animal models. Clinical-grade hAAT contains plasma impurities, multiple hAAT isoforms and various states of inactive hAAT. We thus wished to establish islet-protective activities and effect on Treg cells of plasmid-derived circulating hAAT in whole animals. Islet function was assessed in mice that received allogeneic islet transplants after mice were given hydrodynamic tail-vein injection with pEF-hAAT, a previously described Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) plasmid construct containing the EBV nuclear antigen 1 (EBNA1) and the family of repeat EBNA1 binding site components (designated “EF”) alongside the hAAT gene. Sera collected from hAAT-expressing mice were added to lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated macrophages to assess macrophage responsiveness. Also, maturation of peritoneal cells from hAAT-expressing mice was evaluated. hAAT-expressing mice accepted islet allografts (n = 11), whereas phosphate-buffered saline-injected animals (n = 11), as well as mice treated with truncated-hAAT-plasmid (n = 6) and untreated animals (n = 20) rapidly rejected islet allografts. In hAAT-expressing animals, local Treg cells were abundant at graft sites, and the IL-1 receptor antagonist was elevated in grafts and circulation. Sera from hAAT-expressing mice, but not control mice, inhibited macrophage responses. Finally, peritoneal cells from hAAT-expressing mice exhibited a semimature phenotype. We conclude that plasmid-derived circulating hAAT protects islet allografts from acute rejection, and human plasma impurities are unrelated to islet protection. Future studies may use this in vivo approach to examine the structure-function characteristics of the protective activities of AAT by manipulation of the hAAT plasmid.



The authors wish to thank Valeria Frishman for her excellent technical assistance. The study was funded by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (2-2007-103) and Israel Science Foundation (1027/07).

Supplementary material

10020_2011_1791000_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (519 kb)
α-1-Antitrypsin Gene Delivery Reduces Inflammation, Increases T-Regulatory Cell Population Size and Prevents Islet Allograft Rejection


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Copyright information

© The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Galit Shahaf
    • 1
  • Hadas Moser
    • 1
  • Eyal Ozeri
    • 1
  • Mark Mizrahi
    • 1
  • Avishag Abecassis
    • 1
  • Eli C. Lewis
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Faculty of Health SciencesBen-Gurion University of the NegevBeer-ShevaIsrael

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