Approximately 10% of peripheral CD4+ cells and less than 1% of CD8+ cells in normal unimmunized adult mice express the IL-2 receptor alpha-chain (CD25) molecules. When CD4+ cell suspensions prepared from BALB/c nu/+ mice lymph nodes and spleens were depleted of CD25+ cells by specific mAb and C, and then inoculated into BALB/c athymic nude (nu/nu) mice, all recipients spontaneously developed histologically and serologically evident autoimmune diseases (such as thyroiditis, gastritis, insulitis, sialoadenitis, adrenalitis, oophoritis, glomerulonephritis, and polyarthritis); some mice also developed graft-vs-host-like wasting disease. Reconstitution of CD4+CD25+ cells within a limited period after transfer of CD4+CD25- cells prevented these autoimmune developments in a dose-dependent fashion, whereas the reconstitution several days later, or inoculation of an equivalent dose of CD8+ cells, was far less efficient for the prevention. When nu/nu mice were transplanted with allogeneic skins or immunized with xenogeneic proteins at the time of CD25- cell inoculation, they showed significantly heightened immune responses to the skins or proteins, and reconstitution of CD4+CD25+ cells normalized the responses. Taken together, these results indicate that CD4+CD25+ cells contribute to maintaining self-tolerance by down-regulating immune response to self and non-self Ags in an Ag-nonspecific manner, presumably at the T cell activation stage; elimination/reduction of CD4+CD25+ cells relieves this general suppression, thereby not only enhancing immune responses to non-self Ags, but also eliciting autoimmune responses to certain self-Ags. Abnormality of this T cell-mediated mechanism of peripheral tolerance can be a possible cause of various autoimmune diseases.
Grading acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) is usually based on quantification of rash, serum bilirubin and diarrhea. Standard criteria have been developed and used for > 20 years by most transplant centers. However, neither the standard GVHD grading system nor any of several revisions has been validated in the context of GVHD prophylaxis with cyclosporine. The 1994 Consensus Conference on Acute GVHD Grading held in Keystone in January 1994 provided an opportunity to: (1) review data regarding these standard criteria; (2) determine if there are sufficient data to revise these criteria; and (3) develop recommendations for reporting results of GVHD prevention trials. Data were provided for 8249 patients from 12 large transplant centers and 2 transplant registries. Standard GVHD grading criteria were found to distinguish different mortality risks and treatment response rates. Analysis of new data suggested that persistent nausea with histologic evidence of GVHD but no diarrhea be included as stage 1 gastrointestinal GVHD. Additional studies were recommended to evaluate heterogeneity of outcome within GVHD grades prior to making further revisions. To improve comparability between publications, reports of GVHD prevention trials should include an accurate description of the grading system used and should report actuarial rates of grades II-IV and III-IV GVHD corrected for graft failure and potential interventions for early relapse. Additional information should include indications for therapy of GVHD and response.
This consensus document is intended to serve 3 functions. First, it standardizes the criteria for diagnosis of chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). Second, it proposes a new clinical scoring system (0-3) that describes the extent and severity of chronic GVHD for each organ or site at any given time, taking functional impact into account. Third, it proposes new guidelines for global assessment of chronic GVHD severity that are based on the number of organs or sites involved and the degree of involvement in affected organs (mild, moderate, or severe). Diagnosis of chronic GVHD requires the presence of at least 1 diagnostic clinical sign of chronic GVHD (e.g., poikiloderma or esophageal web) or the presence of at least 1 distinctive manifestation (e.g., keratoconjunctivitis sicca) confirmed by pertinent biopsy or other relevant tests (e.g., Schirmer test) in the same or another organ. Furthermore, other possible diagnoses for clinical symptoms must be excluded. No time limit is set for the diagnosis of chronic GVHD. The Working Group recognized 2 main categories of GVHD, each with 2 subcategories. The acute GVHD category is defined in the absence of diagnostic or distinctive features of chronic GVHD and includes (1) classic acute GVHD occurring within 100 days after transplantation and (2) persistent, recurrent, or late acute GVHD (features of acute GVHD occurring beyond 100 days, often during withdrawal of immune suppression). The broad category of chronic GVHD includes (1) classic chronic GVHD (without features or characteristics of acute GVHD) and (2) an overlap syndrome in which diagnostic or distinctive features of chronic GVHD and acute GVHD appear together. It is currently recommended that systemic therapy be considered for patients who meet criteria for chronic GVHD of moderate to severe global severity.
T cells that accompany allogeneic hematopoietic grafts for treating leukemia enhance engraftment and mediate the graft-versus-leukemia effect. Unfortunately, alloreactive T cells also cause graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). T cell depletion prevents GVHD but increases the risk of graft rejection and leukemic relapse. In human transplants, we show that donor-versus-recipient natural killer (NK)-cell alloreactivity could eliminate leukemia relapse and graft rejection and protect patients against GVHD. In mice, the pretransplant infusion of alloreactive NK cells obviated the need for high-intensity conditioning and reduced GVHD. NK cell alloreactivity may thus provide a powerful tool for enhancing the efficacy and safety of allogeneic hematopoietic transplantation.
Severe graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) is a life-threatening complication after allogeneic transplantation with haemopoietic stem cells. Mesenchymal stem cells modulate immune responses in vitro and in vivo. We aimed to assess whether mesenchymal stem cells could ameliorate GVHD after haemopoietic-stem-cell transplantation.
Patients with steroid-resistant, severe, acute GVHD were treated with mesenchymal stem cells, derived with the European Group for Blood and Marrow Transplantation ex-vivo expansion procedure, in a multicentre, phase II experimental study. We recorded response, transplantation-related deaths, and other adverse events for up to 60 months' follow-up from infusion of the cells.
Between October, 2001, and January, 2007, 55 patients were treated. The median dose of bone-marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells was 1.4x10(6) (min-max range 0.4-9x10(6)) cells per kg bodyweight. 27 patients received one dose, 22 received two doses, and six three to five doses of cells obtained from HLA-identical sibling donors (n=5), haploidentical donors (n=18), and third-party HLA-mismatched donors (n=69). 30 patients had a complete response and nine showed improvement. No patients had side-effects during or immediately after infusions of mesenchymal stem cells. Response rate was not related to donor HLA-match. Three patients had recurrent malignant disease and one developed de-novo acute myeloid leukaemia of recipient origin. Complete responders had lower transplantation-related mortality 1 year after infusion than did patients with partial or no response (11 [37%] of 30 vs 18 [72%] of 25; p=0.002) and higher overall survival 2 years after haemopoietic-stem-cell transplantation (16 [53%] of 30 vs four [16%] of 25; p=0.018).
Infusion of mesenchymal stem cells expanded in vitro, irrespective of the donor, might be an effective therapy for patients with steroid-resistant, acute GVHD.
Adult bone-marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells are immunosuppressive and prolong the rejection of mismatched skin grafts in animals. We transplanted haploidentical mesenchymal stem cells in a patient with severe treatment-resistant grade IV acute graft-versus-host disease of the gut and liver. Clinical response was striking. The patient is now well after 1 year. We postulate that mesenchymal stem cells have a potent immunosuppressive effect in vivo.
Haemopoietic-cell transplantation (HCT) is an intensive therapy used to treat high-risk haematological malignant disorders and other life-threatening haematological and genetic diseases. The main complication of HCT is graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), an immunological disorder that affects many organ systems, including the gastrointestinal tract, liver, skin, and lungs. The number of patients with this complication continues to grow, and many return home from transplant centres after HCT requiring continued treatment with immunosuppressive drugs that increases their risks for serious infections and other complications. In this Seminar, we review our understanding of the risk factors and causes of GHVD, the cellular and cytokine networks implicated in its pathophysiology, and current strategies to prevent and treat the disease. We also summarise supportive-care measures that are essential for management of this medically fragile population.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can become potently immunosuppressive through unknown mechanisms. We found that the immunosuppressive function of MSCs is elicited by IFNgamma and the concomitant presence of any of three other proinflammatory cytokines, TNFalpha, IL-1alpha, or IL-1beta. These cytokine combinations provoke the expression of high levels of several chemokines and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) by MSCs. Chemokines drive T cell migration into proximity with MSCs, where T cell responsiveness is suppressed by nitric oxide (NO). This cytokine-induced immunosuppression was absent in MSCs derived from iNOS(-/-) or IFNgammaR1(-/-) mice. Blockade of chemokine receptors also abolished the immunosuppression. Administration of wild-type MSCs, but not IFNgammaR1(-/-) or iNOS(-/-) MSCs, prevented graft-versus-host disease in mice, an effect reversed by anti-IFNgamma or iNOS inhibitors. Wild-type MSCs also inhibited delayed-type hypersensitivity, while iNOS(-/-) MSCs aggravated it. Therefore, proinflammatory cytokines are required to induce immunosuppression by MSCs through the concerted action of chemokines and NO.
This study of chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) describes the clinical, pathologic and laboratory features, and the causes of morbidity and mortality in 20 patients who received allogeneic marrow transplants from HLA identical sibling donors. Chronic GVHD is a pleiotrophic syndrome with variability in the time of onset, organ systems involved and rate of progression. The clinical-pathologic features resemble an overlap of several collagen vascular diseases with frequent involvement of the skin, liver, eyes, mouth, upper respiratory tract, esophagus and less frequent involvement of the serosal surfaces, lower gastrointestinal tract and skeletal muscles. Major causes of morbidity are scleroderma with contractures and ulceration, dry eyes and mouth, pulmonary insufficiency and wasting. Chronic GVHD has features of immune dysregulation with elevated levels of eosinophils, circulating autoantibodies, hypergammaglobulinemia and plasmacytosis of viscera and lymph nodes. In this study, three patients had limited chronic GVHD with relatively favorable prognosis characterized by localized skin involvement and/or hepatic disease without chronic aggressive histology. Most patients, however, had extensive disease with a progressive course. Survival was largely determined by the presence or absence of serious recurrent bacterial infections. The over-all severity of disease was best assessed by using the Karnofsky performance rating.
To determine whether graft-versus-leukemia (GVL) reactions are important in preventing leukemia recurrence after bone marrow transplantation, we studied 2,254 persons receiving HLA-identical sibling bone marrow transplants for acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) in first remission, acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in first remission, and chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) in first chronic phase. Four groups were investigated in detail: recipients of non--T-cell depleted allografts without graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), recipients of non--T-cell depleted allografts with GVHD, recipients of T-cell depleted allografts, and recipients of genetically identical twin transplants. Decreased relapse was observed in recipients of non--T-cell depleted allografts with acute (relative risk 0.68, P = .03), chronic (relative risk 0.43, P = .01), and both acute and chronic GVDH (relative risk 0.33, P = .0001) as compared with recipients of non--T-cell depleted allografts without GVHD. These data support an antileukemia effect of GVHD. AML patients who received identical twin transplants had an increased probability of relapse (relative risk 2.58, P = .008) compared with allograft recipients without GVHD. These data support an antileukemia effect of allogeneic grafts independent of GVHD. CML patients who received T-cell depleted transplants with or without GVHD had higher probabilities of relapse (relative risks 4.45 and 6.91, respectively, P = .0001) than recipients of non--T-cell depleted allografts without GVHD. These data support an antileukemia effect independent of GVHD that is altered by T-cell depletion. These results explain the efficacy of allogeneic bone marrow transplantation in eradicating leukemia, provide evidence for a role of the immune system in controlling human cancers, and suggest future directions to improve leukemia therapy.
Cellular therapies could play a role in cancer treatment and regenerative medicine if it were possible to quickly eliminate the infused cells in case of adverse events. We devised an inducible T-cell safety switch that is based on the fusion of human caspase 9 to a modified human FK-binding protein, allowing conditional dimerization. When exposed to a synthetic dimerizing drug, the inducible caspase 9 (iCasp9) becomes activated and leads to the rapid death of cells expressing this construct.
We tested the activity of our safety switch by introducing the gene into donor T cells given to enhance immune reconstitution in recipients of haploidentical stem-cell transplants. Patients received AP1903, an otherwise bioinert small-molecule dimerizing drug, if graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) developed. We measured the effects of AP1903 on GVHD and on the function and persistence of the cells containing the iCasp9 safety switch.
Five patients between the ages of 3 and 17 years who had undergone stem-cell transplantation for relapsed acute leukemia were treated with the genetically modified T cells. The cells were detected in peripheral blood from all five patients and increased in number over time, despite their constitutive transgene expression. A single dose of dimerizing drug, given to four patients in whom GVHD developed, eliminated more than 90% of the modified T cells within 30 minutes after administration and ended the GVHD without recurrence.
The iCasp9 cell-suicide system may increase the safety of cellular therapies and expand their clinical applications. (Funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Cancer Institute; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00710892.).
Mature donor T cells cause graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), but they are also the main mediators of the beneficial graft-versus-tumor (GVT) activity of allogeneic bone marrow transplantation. Suppression of GVHD with maintenance of GVT activity is a desirable outcome for clinical transplantation. We have previously shown that donor-derived CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells inhibit lethal GVHD after allogeneic bone marrow transplantation across major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I and II barriers in mice. Here we demonstrate that in host mice with leukemia and lymphoma, CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells suppress the early expansion of alloreactive donor T cells, their interleukin-2-receptor (IL-2R) alpha-chain expression and their capacity to induce GVHD without abrogating their GVT effector function, mediated primarily by the perforin lysis pathway. Thus, CD4+CD25+ T cells are potent regulatory cells that can separate GVHD from GVT activity mediated by conventional donor T cells.
Acute graft-versus-host disease (aGVHD) is associated with high risk of morbidity and mortality and is a common complication after double umbilical cord blood (UCB) transplantation. To reduce these risks, we established a method of CD4(+)CD25(+)FoxP3(+) T regulatory cell (Treg) enrichment from cryopreserved UCB followed by a 18 (+) 1-day expansion culture including anti-CD3/anti-CD28 antibody-coated beads and recombinant human interleukin-2. In a "first-in-human" clinical trial, we evaluated the safety profile of UCB Treg in 23 patients. Patients received a dose of 0.1-30 × 10(5)UCB Treg/kg after double UCB transplantation. The targeted Treg dose was achieved in 74% of cultures, with all products being suppressive in vitro (median 86% suppression at a 1:4 ratio). No infusional toxicities were observed. After infusion, UCB Treg could be detected for 14 days, with the greatest proportion of circulating CD4(+)CD127(-)FoxP3(+) cells observed on day (+)2. Compared with identically treated 108 historical controls without Treg, there was a reduced incidence of grade II-IV aGVHD (43% vs 61%, P = .05) with no deleterious effect on risks of infection, relapse, or early mortality. These results set the stage for a definitive study of UCB Treg to determine its potency in preventing allogeneic aGVHD. This study is registered at http://www.clinicaltrials.gov as NCT00602693.
Acute graft-versus-host disease (aGVHD) is still a major obstacle in clinical allogeneic bone marrow (BM) transplantation. CD4(+)CD25(+) regulatory T (T(reg)) cells have recently been shown to suppress proliferative responses of CD4(+)CD25(-) T cells to alloantigenic stimulation in vitro and are required for ex vivo tolerization of donor T cells, which results in their reduced potential to induce aGVHD. Here we show that CD4(+)CD25(+) T cells isolated from the spleen or BM of donor C57BL/6 (H-2(b)) mice that have not been tolerized are still potent inhibitors of the alloresponse in vitro and of lethal aGVHD induced by C57BL/6 CD4(+)CD25(-) T cells in irradiated BALB/c (H-2(d)) hosts in vivo. The addition of the CD4(+)CD25(+) T(reg) cells at a 1:1 ratio with responder/inducer CD4(+)CD25(-) T cells resulted in a >90% inhibition of the mixed leukocyte reaction and marked protection from lethal GVHD. This protective effect depended in part on the ability of the transferred CD4(+)CD25(+) T cells to secrete interleukin 10 and occurred if the T(reg) cells were of donor, but not host, origin. Our results demonstrate that the balance of donor-type CD4(+)CD25(+) T(reg) and conventional CD4(+)CD25(-) T cells can determine the outcome of aGVHD.
A crucial question in the study of immunological reactions in the central nervous system (CNS) concerns the identity of the parenchymal cells that function as the antigen-presenting cells in that organ. Rat bone marrow chimeras and encephalitogenic, major histocompatability--restricted T-helper lymphocytes were used to show that a subset of endogenous CNS cells, commonly termed "perivascular microglial cells," is bone marrow-derived. In addition, these perivascular cells are fully competent to present antigen to lymphocytes in an appropriately restricted manner. These findings are important for bone marrow transplantation and for neuroimmunological diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
Over the past decade, advances have been made in the care of patients undergoing transplantation. We conducted a study to determine whether these advances have improved the outcomes of transplantation.
We analyzed overall mortality, mortality not preceded by relapse, recurrent malignant conditions, and the frequency and severity of major complications of transplantation, including graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) and hepatic, renal, pulmonary, and infectious complications, among 1418 patients who received their first allogeneic transplants at our center in Seattle in the period from 1993 through 1997 and among 1148 patients who received their first allogeneic transplants in the period from 2003 through 2007. Components of the Pretransplant Assessment of Mortality (PAM) score were used in regression models to adjust for the severity of illness at the time of transplantation.
In the 2003-2007 period, as compared with the 1993-1997 period, we observed significant decreases in mortality not preceded by relapse, both at day 200 (by 60%) and overall (by 52%), the rate of relapse or progression of a malignant condition (by 21%), and overall mortality (by 41%), after adjustment for components of the PAM score. The results were similar when the analyses were limited to patients who received myeloablative conditioning therapy. We also found significant decreases in the risk of severe GVHD; disease caused by viral, bacterial, and fungal infections; and damage to the liver, kidneys, and lungs.
We found a substantial reduction in the hazard of death related to allogeneic hematopoietic-cell transplantation, as well as increased long-term survival, over the past decade. Improved outcomes appear to be related to reductions in organ damage, infection, and severe acute GVHD. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health.).
Immune regulatory CD4(+)CD25(+) cells play a vital role in the induction and maintenance of self-tolerance and the prevention of autoimmunity. Recently, CD4(+)CD25(+) cells have been shown to be required for the ex vivo induction of tolerance to alloantigen via costimulatory blockade and to inhibit allogeneic skin graft rejection. Data presented here demonstrate that CD4(+)CD25(+) cells play an important role in graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) generation. Depletion of CD4(+)CD25(+) cells from the donor T-cell inoculum or in vivo CD25-depletion of the recipient before transplantation resulted in increased GVHD mediated by CD4(+) or whole T cells in several strain combinations irrespective of the total body irradiation conditioning regime. The infusion of freshly purified donor CD4(+)CD25(+) cells modestly inhibited GVHD when administered in equal numbers with whole CD4(+) cells. Because CD4(+)CD25(+) cells only account for 5% to 10% of the total CD4(+) population, the administration of high numbers of fresh donor CD4(+)CD25(+) cells may not be clinically practical. However, we found that large numbers of CD4(+)CD25(+) cells can be obtained by ex vivo activation and expansion. Cultured CD4(+)CD25(+) cells, administered in equal numbers with CD4(+) T cells or CD25-depleted whole T cells, resulted in significant inhibition of rapidly lethal GVHD. To our knowledge, this study is the first to demonstrate that activated, cultured CD4(+)CD25(+) cells can offer substantial protection in a relevant in vivo animal model of disease. These data have important ramifications for clinical bone marrow and solid organ transplantation. CD4(+)CD25(+) cells warrant consideration as an exciting new modality of cellular therapy for the inhibition of undesirable autologous and allogeneic responses.
Hastening posttransplantation immune reconstitution is a key challenge in human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-haploidentical hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (HSCT). In experimental models of mismatched HSCT, T-regulatory cells (Tregs) when co-infused with conventional T cells (Tcons) favored posttransplantation immune reconstitution and prevented lethal graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). In the present study, we evaluated the impact of early infusion of Tregs, followed by Tcons, on GVHD prevention and immunologic reconstitution in 28 patients with high-risk hematologic malignancies who underwent HLA-haploidentical HSCT. We show for the first time in humans that adoptive transfer of Tregs prevented GVHD in the absence of any posttransplantation immunosuppression, promoted lymphoid reconstitution, improved immunity to opportunistic pathogens, and did not weaken the graft-versus-leukemia effect. This study provides evidence that Tregs are a conserved mechanism in humans.
We evaluated the safety and efficacy of high-dose, posttransplantation cyclophosphamide (Cy) to prevent graft rejection and graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) after outpatient nonmyeloablative conditioning and T cell-replete bone marrow transplantation from partially HLA-mismatched (haploidentical) related donors. Patients with advanced hematologic malignancies (n = 67) or paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (n = 1) received Cy 50 mg/kg i.v. on day 3 (n = 28) or on days 3 and 4 (n = 40) after transplantation. The median times to neutrophil (>500/microL) and platelet recovery (>20,000/microL) were 15 and 24 days, respectively. Graft failure occurred in 9 of 66 (13%) evaluable patients, and was fatal in 1. The cumulative incidences of grades II-IV and grades III-IV acute (aGVHD) by day 200 were 34% and 6%, respectively. There was a trend toward a lower risk of extensive chronic GVHD (cGVHD) among recipients of 2 versus 1 dose of posttransplantation Cy (P = .05), the only difference between these groups. The cumulative incidences of nonrelapse mortality (NRM) and relapse at 1 year were 15% and 51%, respectively. Actuarial overall survival (OS) and event-free survival (EFS) at 2 years after transplantation were 36% and 26%, respectively. Patients with lymphoid malignancies had an improved EFS compared to those with myelogenous malignancies (P = .02). Nonmyeloablative HLA-haploidentical BMT with posttransplantation Cy is associated with acceptable rates of fatal graft failure and severe aGVHD or cGVHD.
Graft versus host disease, an alloimmune attack on host tissues mounted by donor T cells, is the most important toxicity of allogeneic bone marrow transplantation. The mechanism by which allogeneic T cells are initially stimulated is unknown. In a murine allogeneic bone marrow transplantation model it was found that, despite the presence of numerous donor antigen-presenting cells, only host-derived antigen-presenting cells initiated graft versus host disease. Thus, strategies for preventing graft versus host disease could be developed that are based on inactivating host antigen-presenting cells. Such strategies could expand the safety and application of allogeneic bone marrow transplantation in treatment of common genetic and neoplastic diseases.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) have immunomodulatory effects. The aim was to study the effect of MSC infusion on graft-versus-host disease (GVHD).
We gave MSC to eight patients with steroid-refractory grades III-IV GVHD and one who had extensive chronic GVHD. The MSC dose was median 1.0 (range 0.7 to 9)x10(6)/kg. No acute side-effects occurred after the MSC infusions. Six patients were treated once and three patients twice. Two patients received MSC from HLA-identical siblings, six from haplo-identical family donors and four from unrelated mismatched donors.
Acute GVHD disappeared completely in six of eight patients. One of these developed cytomegalovirus gastroenteritis. Complete resolution was seen in gut (6), liver (1) and skin (1). Two died soon after MSC treatment with no obvious response. One of them had MSC donor DNA in the colon and a lymph node. Five patients are still alive between 2 months and 3 years after the transplantation. Their survival rate was significantly better than that of 16 patients with steroid-resistant biopsy-proven gastrointestinal GVHD, not treated with MSC during the same period (P = 0.03). One patient treated for extensive chronic GVHD showed a transient response in the liver, but not in the skin and he died of Epstein-Barr virus lymphoma.
MSC is a very promising treatment for severe steroid-resistant acute GVHD.