Tuning Surface Charges of Peptide Nanofibers for Induction of Antigen-Specific Immune Tolerance: An Introductory Study

Chun Yin Jerry Lau, Naomi Benne, Bo Lou, Daniëlle Ter Braake, Esmeralda Bosman, Nicky van Kronenburg, Marcel H Fens, Femke Broere, Wim E Hennink, Enrico Mastrobattista

Published: 2022


Induction of antigen-specific immune tolerance has emerged as the next frontier in treating autoimmune disorders, including atherosclerosis and graft-vs-host reactions during transplantation. Nanostructures are under investigation as a platform for the coordinated delivery of critical components, i.e., the antigen epitope combined with tolerogenic agents, to the target immune cells and subsequently induce tolerance. In the present study, the utility of supramolecular peptide nanofibers to induce antigen-specific immune tolerance was explored. To study the influence of surface charges of the nanofibers towards the extent of the induced immune response, the flanking charge residues at both ends of the amphipathic fibrillization peptide sequences were varied. Dexamethasone, an immunosuppressive glucocorticoid drug, and the ovalbumin-derived OVA323-339 peptide that binds to I-A(d) MHC Class II were covalently linked at either end of the peptide sequences. It was shown that the functional extensions did not alter the structural integrity of the supramolecular nanofibers. Furthermore, the surface charges of the nanofibers were modulated by the inclusion of charged residues. Dendritic cell culture assays suggested that nanofiber of less negative ζ-potential can augment the antigen-specific tolerogenic response. Our findings illustrate a molecular approach to calibrate the tolerogenic response induced by peptide nanofibers, which pave the way for better design of future tolerogenic immunotherapies.

Full Access Link: Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences