Posttransplant cyclophosphamide (PTCy) has been found to be effective in ameliorating acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) in patients following allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (aHSCT). Adoptive transfer of high numbers of donor Tregs in experimental aHSCT has shown promise as a therapeutic modality for GVHD regulation. We recently described a strategy for in vivo Treg expansion targeting two receptors: TNFRSF25 and CD25. To date, there have been no direct comparisons between the use of PTCy and Tregs regarding outcome and immune reconstitution within identical groups of transplanted mice. Here, we assessed these two strategies and found both decreased clinical GVHD and improved survival long term. However, recipients transplanted with Treg-expanded donor cells (TrED) exhibited less weight loss early after HSCT. Additionally, TrED recipients demonstrated less thymic damage, significantly more recent thymic emigrants, and more rapid lymphoid engraftment. Three months after HSCT, PTCy-treated and TrED recipients showed tolerance to F1 skin allografts and comparable immune function. Overall, TrED was found superior to PTCy with regard to weight loss early after transplant and initial lymphoid engraftment. Based on these findings, we speculate that morbidity and mortality after transplant could be diminished following TrED transplant into aHSCT recipients, and, therefore, that TrED could provide a promising clinical strategy for GVHD prophylaxis.
Dietlinde Wolf, Cameron S. Bader, Henry Barreras, Sabrina Copsel, Brent J. Pfeiffer, Casey O. Lightbourn, Norman H. Altman, Krishna V. Komanduri, Robert B. Levy
Recent studies in cancer research have focused intensely on the antineoplastic effects of immune checkpoint inhibitors. While the development of these inhibitors has progressed successfully, strategies to further improve their efficacy and reduce their toxicity are still needed. We hypothesized that the delivery of anti–PD-1 antibody encapsulated in PLGA nanoparticles (anti–PD-1 NPs) to the spleen would improve the antitumor effect of this agent. Unexpectedly, we found that mice treated with a high dose of anti–PD-1 NPs exhibited significantly higher mortality compared with those treated with free anti–PD-1 antibody, due to the overactivation of T cells. Administration of anti–PD-1 NPs to splenectomized LT-α–/– mice, which lack both lymph nodes and spleen, resulted in a complete reversal of this increased mortality and revealed the importance of secondary lymphoid tissues in mediating anti–PD-1–associated toxicity. Attenuation of the anti–PD-1 NPs dosage prevented toxicity and significantly improved its antitumor effect in the B16-F10 murine melanoma model. Furthermore, we found that anti–PD-1 NPs undergo internalization by DCs in the spleen, leading to their maturation and the subsequent activation of T cells. Our findings provide important clues that can lead to the development of strategies to enhance the efficacy of immune checkpoint inhibitors.
Farideh Ordikhani, Mayuko Uehara, Vivek Kasinath, Li Dai, Siawosh K. Eskandari, Baharak Bahmani, Merve Yonar, Jamil R. Azzi, Yousef Haik, Peter T. Sage, George F. Murphy, Nasim Annabi, Tobias Schatton, Indira Guleria, Reza Abdi
TGF-β is a promising immunotherapeutic target. It is expressed ubiquitously in a latent form that must be activated to function. Determination of where and how latent TGF-β (L-TGF-β) is activated in the tumor microenvironment could facilitate cell- and mechanism-specific approaches to immunotherapeutically target TGF-β. Binding of L-TGF-β to integrin αvβ8 results in activation of TGF-β. We engineered and used αvβ8 antibodies optimized for blocking or detection, which — respectively — inhibit tumor growth in syngeneic tumor models or sensitively and specifically detect β8 in human tumors. Inhibition of αvβ8 potentiates cytotoxic T cell responses and recruitment of immune cells to tumor centers — effects that are independent of PD-1/PD-L1. β8 is expressed on the cell surface at high levels by tumor cells, not immune cells, while the reverse is true of L-TGF-β, suggesting that tumor cell αvβ8 serves as a platform for activating cell-surface L-TGF-β presented by immune cells. Transcriptome analysis of tumor-associated lymphoid cells reveals macrophages as a key cell type responsive to β8 inhibition with major increases in chemokine and tumor-eliminating genes. High β8 expression in tumor cells is seen in 20%–80% of various cancers, which rarely coincides with high PD-L1 expression. These data suggest tumor cell αvβ8 is a PD-1/PD-L1–independent immunotherapeutic target.
Naoki Takasaka, Robert I. Seed, Anthony Cormier, Andrew J. Bondesson, Jianlong Lou, Ahmed Elattma, Saburo Ito, Haruhiko Yanagisawa, Mitsuo Hashimoto, Royce Ma, Michelle D. Levine, Jean Publicover, Rashaun Potts, Jillian M. Jespersen, Melody G. Campbell, Fraser Conrad, James D. Marks, Yifan Cheng, Jody L. Baron, Stephen L. Nishimura
Molecular mechanisms underlying the cancer stroma in metastasis need further exploration. Here, we discovered that cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) produced high levels of IL-33 that acted on tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs), causing them to undergo the M1 to M2 transition. Genomic profiling of metastasis-related genes in the IL-33–stimulated TAMs showed a >200-fold increase of MMP9. Signaling analysis demonstrated the IL-33-ST2-NF-κB-MMP9-laminin pathway that governed tumor stroma–mediated metastasis. In mouse and human fibroblast-rich pancreatic cancers, genetic deletion of IL-33, ST2, or MMP9 markedly blocked metastasis. Pharmacological inhibition of NF-κB and MMP9 also blocked cancer metastasis. Deletion of IL-33, ST2, or MMP9 restored laminin, a key basement membrane component associated with tumor microvessels. Together, our data provide mechanistic insights on the IL-33-NF-κB-MMP9-laminin axis that mediates the CAF-TAM–committed cancer metastasis. Thus, targeting the CAF-TAM-vessel axis provides an outstanding therapeutic opportunity for cancer treatment.
Patrik Andersson, Yunlong Yang, Kayoko Hosaka, Yin Zhang, Carina Fischer, Harald Braun, Shuzhen Liu, Guohua Yu, Shihai Liu, Rudi Beyaert, Mayland Chang, Qi Li, Yihai Cao
BACKGROUND. Lymphedema is a common condition affecting millions around the world that still lacks approved medical therapy. Because ketoprofen, an NSAID, has been therapeutic in experimental lymphedema, we evaluated its efficacy in humans. METHODS. We first performed an exploratory open-label trial. Patients with either primary or secondary lymphedema received ketoprofen 75 mg by mouth 3 times daily for 4 months. Subjects were evaluated for changes in histopathology, with skin thickness, limb volume, and tissue bioimpedance changes serving as secondary endpoints. Based on our encouraging findings, we next conducted a placebo-controlled trial, with the primary outcome defined as a change in skin thickness, as measured by skin calipers. Secondary endpoints for this second study included histopathology, limb volume, bioimpedance, and systemic inflammatory mediators. RESULTS. We enrolled 21 lymphedema patients in the open-label trial, from November 2010 to July 2011. Histopathology and skin thickness were significantly improved at 4 months compared with baseline. In the follow-up, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, we enrolled 34 patients from August 2011 to October 2015, with 16 ketoprofen recipients and 18 placebo-treated subjects. No serious adverse events occurred. The ketoprofen recipients demonstrated reduced skin thickness, as well as improved composite measures of histopathology and decreased plasma granulocyte CSF (G-CSF) expression. CONCLUSION. These 2 exploratory studies together support the utility of targeted antiinflammatory therapy with ketoprofen in patients with lymphedema. Our results highlight the promise of such approaches to help restore a failing lymphatic circulation. TRIAL REGISTRATION. ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02257970.
Stanley G. Rockson, Wen Tian, Xinguo Jiang, Tatiana Kuznetsova, Francois Haddad, Jamie Zampell, Babak Mehrara, Joshua P. Sampson, Leslie Roche, Jinah Kim, Mark R. Nicolls
Connexin 43 (Cx43), a product of the GJA1 gene, is a gap junction protein facilitating intercellular communication between cardiomyocytes. Cx43 protects the heart from ischemic injury by mechanisms that are not well understood. GJA1 mRNA can undergo alternative translation, generating smaller isoforms in the heart, with GJA1-20k being the most abundant. Here, we report that ischemic and ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injuries upregulate endogenous GJA1-20k protein in the heart, which targets to cardiac mitochondria and associates with the outer mitochondrial membrane. Exploring the functional consequence of increased GJA1-20k, we found that AAV9-mediated gene transfer of GJA1-20k in mouse hearts increases mitochondrial biogenesis while reducing mitochondrial membrane potential, respiration, and ROS production. By doing so, GJA1-20k promotes a protective mitochondrial phenotype, as seen with ischemic preconditioning (IPC), which also increases endogenous GJA1-20k in heart lysates and mitochondrial fractions. As a result, AAV9-GJA1-20k pretreatment reduces myocardial infarct size in mouse hearts subjected to in vivo ischemic injury or ex vivo I/R injury, similar to an IPC-induced cardioprotective effect. In conclusion, GJA1-20k is an endogenous stress response protein that induces mitochondrial biogenesis and metabolic hibernation, preconditioning the heart against I/R insults. Introduction of exogenous GJA1-20k is a putative therapeutic strategy for patients undergoing anticipated ischemic injury.
Wassim A. Basheer, Ying Fu, Daisuke Shimura, Shaohua Xiao, Sosse Agvanian, Diana M. Hernandez, Tara C. Hitzeman, TingTing Hong, Robin M. Shaw
Fibrosis is characterized by persistent deposition of extracellular matrix (ECM) by fibroblasts. Fibroblast mechanosensing of a stiffened ECM is hypothesized to drive the fibrotic program; however, the spatial distribution of ECM mechanics and their derangements in progressive fibrosis are poorly characterized. Importantly, fibrosis presents with significant histopathological heterogeneity at the microscale. Here, we report that fibroblastic foci (FF), the regions of active fibrogenesis in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), are surprisingly of similar modulus as normal lung parenchyma and are nonlinearly elastic. In vitro, provisional ECMs with mechanical properties similar to those of FF activate both normal and IPF patient–derived fibroblasts, whereas type I collagen ECMs with similar mechanical properties do not. This is mediated, in part, by αvβ3 integrin engagement and is augmented by loss of expression of Thy-1, which regulates αvβ3 integrin avidity for ECM. Thy-1 loss potentiates cell contractility-driven strain stiffening of provisional ECM in vitro and causes elevated αvβ3 integrin activation, increased fibrosis, and greater mortality following fibrotic lung injury in vivo. These data suggest a central role for αvβ3 integrin and provisional ECM in overriding mechanical cues that normally impose quiescent phenotypes, driving progressive fibrosis through physical stiffening of the fibrotic niche.
Vincent F. Fiore, Simon S. Wong, Coleen Tran, Chunting Tan, Wenwei Xu, Todd Sulchek, Eric S. White, James S. Hagood, Thomas H. Barker
Tumor neoantigens arising from somatic mutations in the cancer genome are less likely to be subject to central immune tolerance and are therefore attractive targets for vaccine immunotherapy. We utilized whole-exome sequencing, RNA sequencing (RNASeq), and an in silico immunogenicity prediction algorithm, NetMHC, to generate a neoantigen-targeted vaccine, PancVAX, which was administered together with the STING adjuvant ADU-V16 to mice bearing pancreatic adenocarcinoma (Panc02) cells. PancVAX activated a neoepitope-specific T cell repertoire within the tumor and caused transient tumor regression. When given in combination with two checkpoint modulators, namely anti–PD-1 and agonist OX40 antibodies, PancVAX resulted in enhanced and more durable tumor regression and a survival benefit. The addition of OX40 to vaccine reduced the coexpression of T cell exhaustion markers, Lag3 and PD-1, and resulted in rejection of tumors upon contralateral rechallenge, suggesting the induction of T cell memory. Together, these data provide the framework for testing personalized neoantigen-based combinatorial vaccine strategies in patients with pancreatic and other nonimmunogenic cancers.
Heather L. Kinkead, Alexander Hopkins, Eric Lutz, Annie A. Wu, Mark Yarchoan, Kayla Cruz, Skylar Woolman, Teena Vithayathil, Laura H. Glickman, Chudi O. Ndubaku, Sarah M. McWhirter, Thomas W. Dubensky Jr., Todd D. Armstrong, Elizabeth M. Jaffee, Neeha Zaidi
Severe influenza (IAV) infection can develop into bronchopneumonia and edema, leading to acquired respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and pathophysiology. Underlying causes for pulmonary edema and aberrant fluid regulation largely remain unknown, particularly regarding the role of viral-mediated mechanisms. Herein, we show that distinct IAV strains reduced the functions of the epithelial sodium channel (ENaC) and the cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator (CFTR) in murine respiratory and alveolar epithelia in vivo, as assessed by measurements of nasal potential differences and single-cell electrophysiology. Reduced ion channel activity was distinctly limited to virally infected cells in vivo and not bystander uninfected lung epithelium. Multiple lines of evidence indicated ENaC and CFTR dysfunction during the acute infection period; however, only CFTR dysfunction persisted beyond the infection period. ENaC, CFTR, and Na,K-ATPase activities and protein levels were also reduced in virally infected human airway epithelial cells. Reduced ENaC and CFTR led to changes in airway surface liquid morphology of human tracheobronchial cultures and airways of IAV-infected mice. Pharmacologic correction of CFTR function ameliorated IAV-induced physiologic changes. These changes are consistent with mucous stasis and pulmonary edema; furthermore, they indicate that repurposing therapeutic interventions correcting CFTR dysfunction may be efficacious for treatment of IAV lung pathophysiology.
Jeffrey D. Brand, Ahmed Lazrak, John E. Trombley, Ren-Jay Shei, A. Timothy Adewale, Jennifer L. Tipper, Zhihong Yu, Amit R. Ashtekar, Steven M. Rowe, Sadis Matalon, Kevin S. Harrod
Sensitization to Aspergillus species is associated with allergic respiratory diseases. Allergen immunotherapy with nonstandardized Aspergillus extracts is commonly used as therapy in these patients. Unfortunately, no method exists to measure the relevant allergen protein content in diagnostic and therapeutic extracts. Thus, there is a critical need for Aspergillus extract standardization. We hypothesized that development of Aspergillus-specific human IgE mAbs would allow for the characterization of the relevant human allergenic epitopes among currently available commercial Aspergillus fumigatus extracts. Patients with allergic bronchopulmonary mycosis were recruited from Vanderbilt University Medical Center. IgE antibody–secreting B cells were grown and immortalized using human hybridoma techniques first described here. Twenty-six human Aspergillus-reactive IgE mAbs were used as capture and detection reagents to characterize the Aspergillus allergen content of commercial extracts. We found extreme variability in the specificity and quantity of their protein targets. Just 4 mAbs reacted with all available extracts, and only 1 of 4 extracts contained the major allergen Asp f 1. This degree of variability will almost certainly affect the efficacy of these reagents when used in diagnosis and treatment. Human IgE mAbs represent an innovative tool for the evaluation of relevant human allergenic epitopes, which may assist in future development and long-term standardization of mold extracts.
Mark A. Wurth, Azadeh Hadadianpour, Dennis J. Horvath, Jacob Daniel, Olivia Bogdan, Kasia Goleniewska, Anna Pomés, Robert G. Hamilton, R. Stokes Peebles Jr., Scott A. Smith
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