Rationale: Human embryonic stem cell (hESC) derivatives are attractive candidates for therapeutic use. The engraft-ment and survival of hESC derivatives as xenografts or allografts require effective immunosuppression to prevent immune cell infiltration and graft destruction. Objective: To test the hypothesis that a short-course, dual-agent regimen of two costimulation-adhesion blockade agents can induce better engraftment of hESC derivatives compared to current immunosuppressive agents. Methods and Results: We transduced hESCs with a double fusion reporter gene construct expressing firefly luciferase (Fluc) and enhanced green fluorescent protein, and differentiated these cells to endothelial cells (hESC-ECs). Reporter gene expression enabled longitudinal assessment of cell engraftment by bioluminescence imaging. Costimu-lation- adhesion therapy resulted in superior hESC-EC and mouse EC engraftment compared to cyclosporine therapy in a hind limb model. Costimulation-adhesion therapy also promoted robust hESC-EC and hESC-derived car-diomyocyte survival in an ischemic myocardial injury model. Improved hESC-EC engraftment had a cardio-protective effect after myocardial injury, as assessed by magnetic resonance imaging. Mechanistically, costimulation-adhesion therapy is associated with systemic and intragraft upregulation of T-cell immunoglobulin and mucin domain 3 (TIM3) and a reduced proinflammatory cytokine profile. Conclusions: Costimulation-adhesion therapy is a superior alternative to current clinical immu-nosuppressive strategies for preventing the post-transplant rejection of hESC derivatives. By extending the window for cellular engraftment, costimulation-adhesion therapy enhances functional preservation following ischemic injury. This regimen may function through a TIM3-dependent mechanism.
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