Regulatory CD4+CD25+FoxP3+ T cells (Treg) are a subgroup of T lymphocytes involved in maintaining immune balance. Disturbance of Treg number and impaired suppressive function of Treg correlate with Parkinson’s disease severity. Superagonistic anti-CD28 monoclonal antibodies (CD28SA) activate Treg and cause their expansion to create an anti-inflammatory environment.
Using the AAV1/2-A53T-α-synuclein Parkinson’s disease mouse model that overexpresses the pathogenic human A53T-α-synuclein (hαSyn) variant in dopaminergic neurons of the substantia nigra, we assessed the neuroprotective and disease-modifying efficacy of a single intraperitoneal dose of CD28SA given at an early disease stage.
CD28SA led to Treg expansion 3 days after delivery in hαSyn Parkinson’s disease mice. At this timepoint, an early pro-inflammation was observed in vehicle-treated hαSyn Parkinson’s disease mice with elevated percentages of CD8+CD69+ T cells in brain and increased levels of interleukin-2 (IL-2) in the cervical lymph nodes and spleen. These immune responses were suppressed in CD28SA-treated hαSyn Parkinson’s disease mice. Early treatment with CD28SA attenuated dopaminergic neurodegeneration in the SN of hαSyn Parkinson’s disease mice accompanied with reduced brain numbers of activated CD4+, CD8+ T cells and CD11b+ microglia observed at the late disease-stage 10 weeks after AAV injection. In contrast, a later treatment 4 weeks after AAV delivery failed to reduce dopaminergic neurodegeneration.
Our data indicate that immune modulation by Treg expansion at a timepoint of overt inflammation is effective for treatment of hαSyn Parkinson’s disease mice and suggest that the concept of early immune therapy could pose a disease-modifying option for Parkinson’s disease patients.