Gastrointestinal graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) is a major cause of mortality and morbidity following allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (allo-BMT). Chemerin is a chemotactic protein that recruits leukocytes to inflamed tissues by interacting with ChemR23/CMKLR1, a chemotactic receptor expressed by leukocytes, including macrophages. During acute GvHD, chemerin plasma levels were strongly increased in allo-BM-transplanted mice. The role of the chemerin/CMKLR1 axis in GvHD was investigated using Cmklr1-KO mice. WT mice transplanted with an allogeneic graft from Cmklr1-KO donors (t-KO) had worse survival and more severe GvHD. Histological analysis demonstrated that the gastrointestinal tract was the organ mostly affected by GvHD in t-KO mice. The severe colitis of t-KO mice was characterized by massive neutrophil infiltration and tissue damage associated with bacterial translocation and exacerbated inflammation. Similarly, Cmklr1-KO recipient mice showed increased intestinal pathology in both allogeneic transplant and dextran sulfate sodium–induced colitis. Notably, the adoptive transfer of WT monocytes into t-KO mice mitigated GvHD manifestations by decreasing gut inflammation and T cell activation. In patients, higher chemerin serum levels were predictive of GvHD development. Overall, these results suggest that CMKLR1/chemerin may be a protective pathway for the control of intestinal inflammation and tissue damage in GvHD.


Erica Dander, Paola Vinci, Stefania Vetrano, Camilla Recordati, Rocco Piazza, Grazia Fazio, Donatella Bardelli, Mattia Bugatti, Francesca Sozio, Andrea Piontini, Sonia Bonanomi, Luca Bertola, Elena Tassistro, Maria Grazia Valsecchi, Stefano Calza, William Vermi, Andrea Biondi, Annalisa Del Prete, Silvano Sozzani, Giovanna D’Amico


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