Last updated on March 2018

Low-dose IL-2 for Treg Expansion and Tolerance (LITE)


Brief description of study

Regulatory T cells (Tregs) suppress cytopathic immune responses and inhibit transplant rejection. Our goal is to exploit the Treg suppressive properties to induce transplantation tolerance. In contrast to effector T cells, Tregs constitutively express the high affinity IL-2 receptor, which makes them exquisitely sensitive to very low-doses of IL-2. We propose here to conduct a phase IV clinical trial in which we will test the capacity of low-dose IL-2 to promote the selective expansion of endogenous Tregs in liver transplant recipients at the time immunosuppressive drugs are being discontinued. We expect this will promote Treg accumulation within the transplanted liver, shift the balance between effector T cells and Tregs, and facilitate the development of operational tolerance in patients unlikely to reach this state spontaneously. We expect the trial to start shortly after the initiation of the project and to provide robust evidence on the efficacy of IL-2 within 47 months.

Detailed Study Description

Transplantation remains the most successful treatment for end-stage organ failure, but the need to administer life-long immunosuppression (IS) to prevent rejection limits patient survival. Liver transplantation is the only transplantation setting in which a sizeable proportion of patients spontaneously develop "operational tolerance", a phenomenon defined by the maintenance of stable graft function in the absence of destructive immune responses without the need of IS. Unfortunately this phenomenon preferentially develops in elderly recipients and several years after transplantation. To maximize the benefit derived from IS discontinuation there is a need to find strategies to intentionally induce tolerance in young recipients in whom accumulated IS toxicity has not yet occurred. Our studies have revealed that successful IS discontinuation is associated with a transient intra-graft immune regulatory response with preferential accumulation of regulatory T cells (Tregs). This suggests that short-term enhancement of Treg numbers and/or function at the time of IS withdrawal may facilitate the acquisition of tolerance in patients who are not predisposed to spontaneously develop it. IL-2 is a cytokine that is essential for the optimal development, survival and function of Tregs. Several clinical studies have shown that low-dose IL-2 preferentially expands Tregs and is safe and efficacious in patients with autoimmunity or GVHD. In these studies, Treg frequency increased up to 2 to 8-fold without significant changes in the number of effector T cells. Our objective is to investigate if administration of a short-course of low dose IL-2 to liver transplant recipients facilitates the discontinuation of IS. We propose to conduct a phase II, safety and efficacy, prospective, single-arm clinical trial in which liver recipients <50 years old and 2-6 years after transplantation will receive IL-2 and gradually discontinue their IS medication.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT02949492

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Alberto Sanchez-Fueyo

Alberto Sanchez-Fueyo
London, United Kingdom
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