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Concept: Graft-versus-host disease


Graft-versus-host disease is one of the major transplant-related complications in allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Continued efforts have been made to prevent the occurrence of severe graft-versus-host disease by eliminating or suppressing donor-derived effector T cells. Conventional immunosuppression does not adequately prevent graft-versus-host disease, especially in mismatched transplants. Unfortunately, elimination of donor-derived T cells impairs stem cell engraftment, and delays immunologic reconstitution, rendering the recipient susceptible to post-transplant infections and disease relapse, with potentially lethal consequences. In this review, we discuss the role of dynamic immune regulation in controlling graft-versus-host disease, and how cell-based therapies are being developed using regulatory T cells and other tolerogenic cells for the prevention and treatment of graft-versus-host disease. In addition, advances in the design of cytoreductive conditioning regimens to selectively target graft-versus-host disease-inducing donor-derived T cells that have improved the safety of allogeneic stem cell transplantation are reviewed. Finally, we discuss advances in our understanding of the tolerogenic facilitating cell population, a phenotypically and functionally distinct population of bone marrow-derived cells which promote hematopoietic stem cell engraftment while reducing the risk of graft-versus-host disease.

Concepts: Immune system, Immunology, Graft-versus-host disease, T helper cell, T cells, Organ transplant, Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, Hematopoietic stem cell


We previously reported that bone marrow grafts from matched sibling donors resulted in best graft-versus-host disease-free, relapse-free survival at 1-year post allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation. However, pediatric patients comprised the majority of bone marrow graft recipients in that study. To better define this outcome in adults and pediatric patients at 1- and 2-years post- allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation, we pooled data from University of Minnesota and Hopital Saint-Louis in Paris, France (n=1901). Graft-versus-host disease-free, relapse-free survival was defined as absence of grade III-IV acute graft-versus-host disease, chronic graft-versus-host disease (requiring systemic therapy or extensive stage), relapse and death. In adults, bone marrow from matched sibling donors (n=123) had best graft-versus-host disease-free, relapse-free survival at 1- and 2-years, compared with peripheral blood stem cell from matched sibling donors (n=540) or other graft/donor types. In multivariate analysis, peripheral blood stem cell from matched sibling donors resulted in a 50% increased risk of events contributing to graft-versus-host disease-free, relapse-free survival at 1- and 2-years than bone marrow from matched sibling donors. With limited numbers of peripheral blood stem cell grafts in pediatric patients (n=12), graft-versus-host disease-free, relapse-free survival did not differ between bone marrow and peripheral blood stem cell graft from any donor. While not all patients have a matched sibling donor, graft-versus-host disease-free, relapse-free survival may be improved by preferential use of bone marrow for adults with malignant diseases. Alternatively, novel graft-versus-host disease prophylaxis regimens are needed to substantially impact graft-versus-host disease-free, relapse-free survival with the use of peripheral blood stem cell.

Concepts: Medicine, Cancer, Stem cell, Bone marrow, Graft-versus-host disease, Organ transplant, Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, Hematopoietic stem cell


Background Chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) is the leading cause of later illness and death after allogeneic hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation. We hypothesized that the inclusion of antihuman T-lymphocyte immune globulin (ATG) in a myeloablative conditioning regimen for patients with acute leukemia would result in a significant reduction in chronic GVHD 2 years after allogeneic peripheral-blood stem-cell transplantation from an HLA-identical sibling. Methods We conducted a prospective, multicenter, open-label, randomized phase 3 study of ATG as part of a conditioning regimen. A total of 168 patients were enrolled at 27 centers. Patients were randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to receive ATG or not receive ATG, with stratification according to center and risk of disease. Results After a median follow-up of 24 months, the cumulative incidence of chronic GVHD was 32.2% (95% confidence interval [CI], 22.1 to 46.7) in the ATG group and 68.7% (95% CI, 58.4 to 80.7) in the non-ATG group (P<0.001). The rate of 2-year relapse-free survival was similar in the ATG group and the non-ATG group (59.4% [95% CI, 47.8 to 69.2] and 64.6% [95% CI, 50.9 to 75.3], respectively; P=0.21), as was the rate of overall survival (74.1% [95% CI, 62.7 to 82.5] and 77.9% [95% CI, 66.1 to 86.1], respectively; P=0.46). There were no significant between-group differences in the rates of relapse, infectious complications, acute GVHD, or adverse events. The rate of a composite end point of chronic GVHD-free and relapse-free survival at 2 years was significantly higher in the ATG group than in the non-ATG group (36.6% vs. 16.8%, P=0.005). Conclusions The inclusion of ATG resulted in a significantly lower rate of chronic GVHD after allogeneic transplantation than the rate without ATG. The survival rate was similar in the two groups, but the rate of a composite end point of chronic GVHD-free survival and relapse-free survival was higher with ATG. (Funded by the Neovii Biotech and the European Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation; number, NCT00678275 .).

Concepts: Clinical trial, Graft-versus-host disease, Hematology, Organ transplant, Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, Transplantation medicine


Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is a critically important therapy for hematological malignancies, inborn errors of metabolism, and immunodeficiency disorders, yet complications such as graft-vs.-host disease (GvHD) limit survival. Development of anti-GvHD therapies that do not adversely affect susceptibility to infection or graft-vs.-tumor immunity are hampered by the lack of a physiologically relevant, preclinical model of allogeneic HSCT. Here we show a spectrum of diverse clinical HSCT outcomes including primary and secondary graft failure, lethal GvHD, and stable, disease-free full donor engraftment using reduced intensity conditioning and mobilized peripheral blood HSCT in unrelated, fully MHC-matched Mauritian-origin cynomolgus macaques. Anti-GvHD prophylaxis of tacrolimus, post-transplant cyclophosphamide, and CD28 blockade induces multi-lineage, full donor chimerism and recipient-specific tolerance while maintaining pathogen-specific immunity. These results establish a new preclinical allogeneic HSCT model for evaluation of GvHD prophylaxis and next-generation HSCT-mediated therapies for solid organ tolerance, cure of non-malignant hematological disease, and HIV reservoir clearance.

Concepts: Immune system, Disease, Cure, Chemotherapy, Graft-versus-host disease, Hematology, Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, Inborn error of metabolism


Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) is a major barrier to successful allogeneic hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (HSCT). The chemokine receptor CCR5 appears to play a role in alloreactivity. We tested whether CCR5 blockade would be safe and limit GVHD in humans.

Concepts: Immune system, Signal transduction, Graft-versus-host disease, CCR5, Chemokine, Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, Transplantation medicine, Chemokine receptor


Programmed death ligand-1 (PD-L1) interacts with programmed death-1 (PD-1) and the immunostimulatory molecule CD80 and functions as a checkpoint to regulate immune responses. The interaction of PD-L1 with CD80 alone has been shown to exacerbate the severity of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), whereas costimulation of CD80 and PD-1 ameliorates GVHD. Here we have demonstrated that temporary depletion of donor CD4+ T cells early after hematopoietic cell transplantation effectively prevents GVHD while preserving strong graft-versus-leukemia (GVL) effects in allogeneic and xenogeneic murine GVHD models. Depletion of donor CD4+ T cells increased serum IFN-γ but reduced IL-2 concentrations, leading to upregulation of PD-L1 expression by recipient tissues and donor CD8+ T cells. In GVHD target tissues, the interactions of PD-L1 with PD-1 on donor CD8+ T cells cause anergy, exhaustion, and apoptosis, thereby preventing GVHD. In lymphoid tissues, the interactions of PD-L1 with CD80 augment CD8+ T cell expansion without increasing anergy, exhaustion, or apoptosis, resulting in strong GVL effects. These results indicate that the outcome of PD-L1-mediated signaling in CD8+ T cells depends on the presence or absence of CD4+ T cells, the nature of the interacting receptor expressed by CD8+ T cells, and the tissue environment in which the signaling occurs.

Concepts: Immune system, Gene expression, Graft-versus-host disease, Interaction, T cell, Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, Thymus, CD28


BACKGROUND: The impact of obesity on hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) outcome remains controversial and has been considered a relative contraindication for the procedure. We investigated the influence of Body Mass Index (BMI) on the clinical course of adults undergoing an ambulatory HSCT after a non-myeloablative conditioning regimen. METHODS: Adults with hematologic diseases undergoing an autologous or allogeneic HSCT after reduced intensity conditioning (RIC) and supported exclusively with enteral nutrition (EN) were studied. BMI and body fat were sequentially determined. Patients were divided into three BMI subgroups: underweight; normal, and overweight/obese. RESULTS: Seventy-seven patients with a median follow-up of 21months were evaluated. Fourteen (18.2%) were underweight, 21 (27.3%) had a normal weight, and 42 (54.5%) were overweight/obese. A significant weight loss was observed among all three weight groups after HSCT (P=0.014). No correlation was found between time to engraftment and BMI (P=0.91), serum albumin (P=0.387), and fasting glucose (P=0.64), nor between BMI and acute (P=0.456) or chronic (P=0.209) graft versus host disease (GVHD). On multivariate analysis a higher overall survival (OS) was documented for obese patients (P=0.037). DISCUSSION: A BMI >30/kg/m(2) was independently associated with a higher survival rate after HSCT. Obese patients should not be excluded as transplant candidates based only on this parameter.

Concepts: Nutrition, Obesity, Graft-versus-host disease, Adipose tissue, Body mass index, Weight loss, Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, Body shape


Chronic GVHD (cGVHD) is an important problem after allotransplants. Some risk factors for cGVHD are similar to those of acute GVHD (aGVHD) but others are distinct indicating sometimes overlapping but unique pathogeneses. Precise incidence and prevalence data of cGVHD are lacking because of diverse diagnostic criteria but a 50% risk is a reasonable estimate. Incidence and prevalence of cGVHD are probably growing because of increased use of unrelated donors, blood rather than bone marrow (BM) grafts, decreased early transplant-related mortality (TRM) and increasing frequency of allotransplants. Pathophysiology of cGVHD is complex and poorly understood. Notably, no reliable surrogate end point to predict mechanism(s) of cGVHD has been identified. Therapy of cGVHD is unsatisfactory. Corticosteroids are effective but other drugs are controversial and few are rigorously tested in randomized trials. Highly variable response rates are reported because of small sample sizes and inconsistencies in eligibility, diagnostic and response criteria. We focus on the possible role of immunomodulatory drugs (IMiDs), thalidomide lenalidomide and pomalidomide, in preventing and treating cGVHD. The data suggest activity of thalidomide but at doses not clinically practical in many instances. There are few data with lenalidomide. Trials of pomalidomide, which has immune activities like thalidomide but with fewer adverse effects, are beginning. Because cGVHD is not recently reviewed in Bone Marrow Transplantation, we give a brief background and discuss challenges in diagnosing, understanding and treating cGVHD including the recently proposed National Institutes of Health consensus criteria for cGVHD.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Sample size, Medical terms, Diagnosis, Medical statistics, Chemotherapy, Graft-versus-host disease, Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation


Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) is a lethal complication of allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT). Immunosuppressive agents are currently used to control GVHD but may cause general immune suppression and limit the effectiveness of BMT. Adoptive transfer of regulatory T cells (T(regs)) can prevent GVHD in rodents, suggesting a therapeutic potential of T(regs) for GVHD in humans. However, the clinical application of T(reg)-based therapy is hampered by the low frequency of human T(regs) and the lack of a reliable model to test their therapeutic effects in vivo. Recently, we successfully generated human alloantigen-specific CD8(hi) T(regs) in a large scale from antigenically naïve precursors ex vivo using allogeneic CD40-activated B cells as stimulators. We report a human allogeneic GVHD model established in humanized mice to mimic GVHD after BMT in humans. We demonstrate that ex vivo-induced CD8(hi) T(regs) controlled GVHD in an allospecific manner by reducing alloreactive T cell proliferation as well as decreasing inflammatory cytokine and chemokine secretion within target organs through a CTLA-4-dependent mechanism in humanized mice. These CD8(hi) T(regs) induced long-term tolerance effectively without compromising general immunity and graft-versus-tumor activity. Our results support testing of human CD8(hi) T(regs) in GVHD in clinical trials.

Concepts: Immune system, Cell, Chemotherapy, Immunology, Graft-versus-host disease, Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, Immunosuppression, Transplantation medicine


Oral Diseases (2012) 19, 18-36 Objective:  Solid organ transplant (SOT) and hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) recipients are at risk of several diseases, principally attributable to immunosuppression. This global overview of SOT/HSCT-associated orofacial diseases is aimed at providing a practical instrument for the oral healthcare management of SOT/HSCT recipients. Methods:  Literature search was made through MEDLINE. The associations between orofacial diseases and SOT/HSCT were assessed using observational studies and case series and were classified into ‘association’, ‘no association’, and ‘unclear association’. Results:  Lip/oral cancers, drug-induced gingival overgrowth (DIGO), infections, including hairy leukoplakia and, less frequently, post-transplantation lymphoproliferative disorders (PTLDs) and oral lichenoid lesions of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), were associated with SOT. Lip/oral cancers, GVHD, mucositis, DIGO, infections and, less frequently, PTLDs were associated with HSCT. Associations of orofacial granulomatosis-like lesions and oral mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue-type lymphoma with SOT, and of pyogenic granuloma and hairy leukoplakia with HSCT were unclear. Periodontal disease and dental caries were not associated with SOT/HSCT. For none of the local treatments was there a strong evidence of effectiveness. Conclusions:  Solid organ transplant/HSCT recipients are at risk of orofacial diseases. Adequate management of these patients alleviates local symptoms responsible for impaired eating, helps prevent systemic and lethal complications, and helps where dental healthcare has been neglected.

Concepts: Disease, Infectious disease, Chemotherapy, Graft-versus-host disease, Organ transplant, Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, Oral pathology, Conditions of the mucous membranes