BACKGROUND. Because injury is universal in organ transplantation, heart transplant endomyocardial biopsies present an opportunity to explore response to injury in heart parenchyma. Histology has limited ability to assess injury, potentially confusing it with rejection, whereas molecular changes have potential to distinguish injury from rejection. Building on previous studies of transcripts associated with T cell–mediated rejection (TCMR) and antibody-mediated rejection (ABMR), we explored transcripts reflecting injury. METHODS. Microarray data from 889 prospectively collected endomyocardial biopsies from 454 transplant recipients at 14 centers were subjected to unsupervised principal component analysis and archetypal analysis to detect variation not explained by rejection. The resulting principal component and archetype scores were then examined for their transcript, transcript set, and pathway associations and compared to the histology diagnoses and left ventricular function. RESULTS. Rejection was reflected by principal components PC1 and PC2, and by archetype scores S2TCMR, and S3ABMR, with S1normal indicating normalness. PC3 and a new archetype score, S4injury, identified unexplained variation correlating with expression of transcripts inducible in injury models, many expressed in macrophages and associated with inflammation in pathway analysis. S4injury scores were high in recent transplants, reflecting donation-implantation injury, and both S4injury and S2TCMR were associated with reduced left ventricular ejection fraction. CONCLUSION. Assessment of injury is necessary for accurate estimates of rejection and for understanding heart transplant phenotypes. Biopsies with molecular injury but no molecular rejection were often misdiagnosed rejection by histology. TRAIL REGISTRATION. ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02670408 FUNDING. Roche Organ Transplant Research Foundation, the University of Alberta Hospital Foundation, and Alberta Health Services.
Philip F. Halloran, Jeff Reeve, Arezu Z. Aliabadi, Martin Cadeiras, Marisa G. Crespo-Leiro, Mario Deng, Eugene C. Depasquale, Johannes Goekler, Xavier Jouven, Daniel H. Kim, Jon Kobashigawa, Alexandre Loupy, Peter Macdonald, Luciano Potena, Andreas Zuckermann, Michael D. Parkes
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
We hypothesized that the gut microbiota influences survival of murine cardiac allografts through modulation of immunity. Antibiotic pretreated mice received vascularized cardiac allografts and fecal microbiota transfer (FMT), along with tacrolimus immunosuppression. FMT source samples were from normal, pregnant (immune suppressed), or spontaneously colitic (inflammation) mice. Bifidobacterium pseudolongum (B. pseudolongum) in pregnant FMT recipients was associated with prolonged allograft survival and lower inflammation and fibrosis, while normal or colitic FMT resulted in inferior survival and worse histology. Transfer of B. pseudolongum alone resulted in reduced inflammation and fibrosis. Stimulation of DC and macrophage lines with B. pseudolongum induced the antiinflammatory cytokine IL-10 and homeostatic chemokine CCL19 but induced lesser amounts of the proinflammatory cytokines TNFα and IL-6. In contrast, LPS and Desulfovibrio desulfuricans (D. desulfuricans), more abundant in colitic FMT, induced a more inflammatory cytokine response. Analysis of mesenteric and peripheral lymph node structure showed that B. pseudolongum gavage resulted in a higher laminin α4/α5 ratio in the lymph node cortical ridge, indicative of a suppressive environment, while D. desulfuricans resulted in a lower laminin α4/α5 ratio, supportive of inflammation. Discrete gut bacterial species alter immunity and may predict graft outcomes through stimulation of myeloid cells and shifts in lymph node structure and permissiveness.
Jonathan S. Bromberg, Lauren Hittle, Yanbao Xiong, Vikas Saxena, Eoghan M. Smyth, Lushen Li, Tianshu Zhang, Chelsea Wagner, W. Florian Fricke, Thomas Simon, Colin C. Brinkman, Emmanuel F. Mongodin
Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) is a major complication of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HCT). The tyrosine kinase SYK contributes to both acute and chronic GVHD development, making it an attractive target for GVHD prevention. Entospletinib (ENTO) is a second-generation highly selective SYK inhibitor with a high safety profile. Potential utility of ENTO as GVHD prophylaxis in patients was examined using a preclinical mouse model of eye and skin GVHD and ENTO-compounded chow. We found that early SYK inhibition improved blood immune cell reconstitution in GVHD mice and prolonged survival, with 60% of mice surviving to day +120 compared with 10% of mice treated with placebo. Compared with mice receiving placebo, mice receiving ENTO had dramatic improvements in clinical eye scores, alopecia scores, and skin scores. Infiltrating SYK+ cells expressing B220 or F4/80, resembling SYK+ cells found in lichenoid skin lesions of chronic GVHD patients, were abundant in the skin of placebo mice but were rare in ENTO-treated mice. Thus, ENTO given early after HCT safely prevented GVHD.
Jonathan C. Poe, Wei Jia, Julie A. Di Paolo, Nancy J. Reyes, Ji Yun Kim, Hsuan Su, John S. Sundy, Adela R. Cardones, Victor L. Perez, Benny J. Chen, Nelson J. Chao, Diana M. Cardona, Daniel R. Saban, Stefanie Sarantopoulos
Organ transplant recipients (OTRs) on cyclosporine A (CSA) are prone to catastrophic cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Allograft-sparing, cancer-targeting systemic treatments are unavailable. We have shown increased risk for catastrophic SCC in OTRs via CSA-mediated induction of IL-22. Herein, we found that CSA drives SCC proliferation and tumor growth through IL-22 and JAK/STAT pathway induction. We in turn inhibited SCC growth with an FDA-approved JAK1/2 inhibitor, ruxolitinib. In human SCC cells, the greatest proliferative response to IL-22 and CSA treatment occurred in nonmetastasizing lines. IL-22 treatment upregulated JAK1 and STAT1/3 in A431 SCC cells. JAK/STAT pathway genes were highly expressed in tumors from a cohort of CSA-exposed OTRs and in SCC with high risk for metastasis. Compared with immunocompetent SCC, genes associated with innate immunity, response to DNA damage, and p53 regulation were differentially expressed in SCC from OTRs. In nude mice engrafted with human A431 cells, IL-22 and CSA treatment increased tumor growth and upregulated IL-22 receptor, JAK1, and STAT1/3 expression. Ruxolitinib treatment significantly reduced tumor volume and reversed the accelerated tumor growth. CSA and IL-22 exacerbate aggressive behavior in SCC. Targeting the IL-22 axis via selective JAK/STAT inhibition may reduce the progression of aggressive SCC in OTRs, without compromising immunosuppression.
Melody Abikhair Burgo, Nazanin Roudiani, Jie Chen, Alexis L. Santana, Nicole Doudican, Charlotte Proby, Diane Felsen, John A. Carucci
Adeno-associated viral vector–mediated (AAV-mediated) expression of allogeneic major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC class I) in recipient liver induces donor-specific tolerance in mouse skin transplant models in which a class I allele (H-2Kb or H-2Kd) is mismatched between donor and recipient. Tolerance can be induced in mice primed by prior rejection of a donor-strain skin graft, as well as in naive recipients. Allogeneic MHC class I may be recognized by recipient T cells as an intact molecule (direct recognition) or may be processed and presented as an allogeneic peptide in the context of self-MHC (indirect recognition). The relative contributions of direct and indirect allorecognition to tolerance induction in this setting are unknown. Using hepatocyte-specific AAV vectors encoding WT allogeneic MHC class I molecules, or class I molecules containing a point mutation (D227K) that impedes direct recognition of intact allogeneic MHC class I by CD8+ T cells without hampering the presentation of processed peptides derived from allogeneic MHC class I, we show here that tolerance induction depends upon recognition of intact MHC class I. Indirect recognition alone yielded a modest prolongation of subsequent skin graft survival, attributable to the generation of CD4+ Tregs, but it was not sufficient to induce tolerance.
Moumita Paul-Heng, Mario Leong, Eithne Cunningham, Daniel L. J. Bunker, Katherine Bremner, Zane Wang, Chuanmin Wang, Szun Szun Tay, Claire McGuffog, Grant J. Logan, Ian E. Alexander, Min Hu, Stephen I. Alexander, Tim D. Sparwasser, Patrick Bertolino, David G. Bowen, G. Alex Bishop, Alexandra Sharland
Brain death that occurs in the setting of deceased organ donation for transplantation is associated with systemic inflammation of unknown origin. It has recently been recognized that mitochondria-derived damage-associated molecular patterns (mtDAMPs) released into the circulation in the setting of trauma and tissue injury are associated with a systemic inflammatory response. We examined the blood of deceased organ donors and found elevated levels of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines that correlated with levels of mtDAMPs. We also found that donor neutrophils are activated and that donor plasma contains a neutrophil-activating factor that is blocked by cyclosporin H, a formyl peptide receptor-1 antagonist. Examination of donor plasma by electron microscopy and flow cytometry revealed that free- and membrane-bound mitochondria are elevated in donor plasma. Interestingly, we demonstrated a correlation between donor plasma mitochondrial DNA levels and early allograft dysfunction in liver transplant recipients, suggesting a role for circulating mtDAMPs in allograft outcomes. Current approaches to prolong allograft survival focus on immune suppression in the transplant recipient; our data indicate that targeting inflammatory factors in deceased donors prior to organ procurement is another potential strategy for improving transplant outcomes.
Justin Pollara, R. Whitney Edwards, Liwen Lin, Victoria A. Bendersky, Todd V. Brennan
Alloreactive T lymphocytes are the primary mediators of immune responses in transplantation, both in the graft-versus-host and host-versus-graft directions. While essentially all clones comprising the human T cell repertoire have been selected on self-peptide presented by self–human leukocyte antigens (self-HLAs), much remains to be understood about the nature of clones capable of responding to allo-HLA molecules. Quantitative tools to study these cells are critical to understand fundamental features of this important response; however, the large size and diversity of the alloreactive T cell repertoire in humans presents a great technical challenge. We have developed a high-throughput T cell receptor (TCR) sequencing approach to characterize the human alloresponse. We present a statistical method to model T cell clonal frequency distribution and quantify repertoire diversity. Using these approaches, we measured the diversity and frequency of distinct alloreactive CD4+ and CD8+ T cell populations in HLA-mismatched responder-stimulator pairs. Our findings indicate that the alloimmune repertoire is highly specific for a given pair of individuals, that most alloreactive clones circulate at low frequencies, and that a high proportion of TCRs is likely able to recognize alloantigens.
Susan DeWolf, Boris Grinshpun, Thomas Savage, Sai Ping Lau, Aleksandar Obradovic, Brittany Shonts, Suxiao Yang, Heather Morris, Julien Zuber, Robert Winchester, Megan Sykes, Yufeng Shen
Soluble cytokine receptors function as decoy receptors to attenuate cytokine-mediated signaling and modulate downstream cellular responses. Dysregulated overproduction of soluble receptors can be pathological, such as soluble ST2 (sST2), a prognostic biomarker in cardiovascular diseases, ulcerative colitis, and graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). Although intervention using an ST2 antibody improves survival in murine GVHD models, sST2 is a challenging target for drug development because it binds to IL-33 via an extensive interaction interface. Here, we report the discovery of small-molecule ST2 inhibitors through a combination of high-throughput screening and computational analysis. After in vitro and in vivo toxicity assessment, 3 compounds were selected for evaluation in 2 experimental GVHD models. We show that the most effective compound, iST2-1, reduces plasma sST2 levels, alleviates disease symptoms, improves survival, and maintains graft-versus-leukemia activity. Our data suggest that iST2-1 warrants further optimization to develop treatment for inflammatory diseases mediated by sST2.
Abdulraouf M. Ramadan, Etienne Daguindau, Jason C. Rech, Krishnapriya Chinnaswamy, Jilu Zhang, Greg L. Hura, Brad Griesenauer, Zachary Bolten, Aaron Robida, Martha Larsen, Jeanne A. Stuckey, Chao-Yie Yang, Sophie Paczesny
Liver damage is typically inferred from serum measurements of cytoplasmic liver enzymes. DNA molecules released from dying hepatocytes are an alternative biomarker, unexplored so far, potentially allowing for quantitative assessment of liver cell death. Here we describe a method for detecting acute hepatocyte death, based on quantification of circulating, cell-free DNA (cfDNA) fragments carrying hepatocyte-specific methylation patterns. We identified 3 genomic loci that are unmethylated specifically in hepatocytes, and used bisulfite conversion, PCR, and massively parallel sequencing to quantify the concentration of hepatocyte-derived DNA in mixed samples. Healthy donors had, on average, 30 hepatocyte genomes/ml plasma, reflective of basal cell turnover in the liver. We identified elevations of hepatocyte cfDNA in patients shortly after liver transplantation, during acute rejection of an established liver transplant, and also in healthy individuals after partial hepatectomy. Furthermore, patients with sepsis had high levels of hepatocyte cfDNA, which correlated with levels of liver enzymes aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT). Duchenne muscular dystrophy patients, in which elevated AST and ALT derive from damaged muscle rather than liver, did not have elevated hepatocyte cfDNA. We conclude that measurements of hepatocyte-derived cfDNA can provide specific and sensitive information on hepatocyte death, for monitoring human liver dynamics, disease, and toxicity.
Roni Lehmann-Werman, Judith Magenheim, Joshua Moss, Daniel Neiman, Ofri Abraham, Sheina Piyanzin, Hai Zemmour, Ilana Fox, Talya Dor, Markus Grompe, Giora Landesberg, Bao-Li Loza, Abraham Shaked, Kim Olthoff, Benjamin Glaser, Ruth Shemer, Yuval Dor
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