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Regulatory T-Cell Response to Low-Dose Interleukin-2 in Ischemic Heart Disease.

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Zhao, Tian X 
Sriranjan, Rouchelle S 
Tuong, Zewen Kelvin 
Sage, Andrew P 


BACKGROUND: Atherosclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the artery wall. Regulatory T cells (Tregs) limit inflammation and promote tissue healing. Low doses of interleukin (IL)-2 have the potential to increase Tregs, but its use is contraindicated for patients with ischemic heart disease. METHODS: In this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, dose-escalation trial, we tested low-dose subcutaneous aldesleukin (recombinant IL-2), given once daily for 5 consecutive days. In study part A, the primary end point was safety, and patients with stable ischemic heart disease were randomly assigned to receive placebo or to one of five dose groups (range, 0.3 to 3.0 × 106 IU daily). In study part B, patients with acute non-ST elevation myocardial infarction or unstable angina were randomly assigned to receive placebo or to one of two dose groups (1.5 and 2.5 × 106 IU daily). The coprimary end points were safety and the dose required to increase circulating Tregs by 75%. Single-cell RNA-sequencing of circulating immune cells was used to provide a mechanistic assessment of the effects of aldesleukin. RESULTS: Forty-four patients were randomly assigned to either study part A (n=26) or part B (n=18). In total, 3 patients withdrew before dosing, 27 received active treatment, and 14 received placebo. The majority of adverse events were mild. Two serious adverse events occurred, with one occurring after drug administration. In parts A and B, there was a dose-dependent increase in Tregs. In part B, the estimated dose to achieve a 75% increase in Tregs was 1.46 × 106 IU (95% confidence interval, 1.06 to 1.87). Single-cell RNA-sequencing demonstrated the engagement of distinct pathways and cell–cell interactions. CONCLUSIONS: In this phase 1b/2a study, low-dose IL-2 expanded Tregs without adverse events of major concern. Larger trials are needed to confirm the safety and to further evaluate the efficacy of low-dose IL-2 as an anti-inflammatory therapy for patients with ischemic heart disease. (Funded by the Medical Research Council, the British Heart Foundation, and others; number, NCT03113773)



Humans, Interleukin-2, T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory, Myocardial Ischemia, Double-Blind Method, Male, Middle Aged, Female, Recombinant Proteins

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Massachusetts Medical Society
British Heart Foundation (CH/10/001/27642)
Medical Research Council (MR/N028015/1)
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/N014588/1)
EPSRC (EP/T017961/1)
British Heart Foundation (CH/10/001/27642)
Medical Research Council (MR/S035842/1)
Department of Health (via National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)) (RP-2017-08-ST2-002)