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Journal: Blood advances


T-cell responses to minor histocompatibility antigens (mHAs) mediate both antitumor immunity (graft-versus-leukemia [GVL]) and graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) in allogeneic stem cell transplant. Identifying mHAs with high allele frequency, tight binding affinity to common HLA molecules, and narrow tissue restriction could enhance immunotherapy against leukemia. Genotyping and HLA allele data from 101 HLA-matched donor-recipient pairs (DRPs) were computationally analyzed to predict both class I and class II mHAs likely to induce either GVL or GVHD. Roughly twice as many mHAs were predicted in HLA-matched unrelated donor (MUD) stem cell transplantation (SCT) compared with HLA-matched related transplants, an expected result given greater genetic disparity in MUD SCT. Computational analysis predicted 14 of 18 previously identified mHAs, with 2 minor antigen mismatches not being contained in the patient cohort, 1 missed mHA resulting from a noncanonical translation of the peptide antigen, and 1 case of poor binding prediction. A predicted peptide epitope derived from GRK4, a protein expressed in acute myeloid leukemia and testis, was confirmed by targeted differential ion mobility spectrometry-tandem mass spectrometry. T cells specific to UNC-GRK4-V were identified by tetramer analysis both in DRPs where a minor antigen mismatch was predicted and in DRPs where the donor contained the allele encoding UNC-GRK4-V, suggesting that this antigen could be both an mHA and a cancer-testis antigen. Computational analysis of genomic and transcriptomic data can reliably predict leukemia-associated mHA and can be used to guide targeted mHA discovery.


Transfusing platelets during massive hemorrhage is debated because of a lack of high-quality evidence concerning outcomes in trauma patients. The objective of this study was to examine the effect of platelet transfusions on mortality in severely injured trauma patients. This work analyzed PROPPR (Pragmatic, Randomized Optimal Platelet and Plasma Ratios) trial patients who received only the first cooler of blood products, which either did or did not contain platelets. Primary outcomes were all-cause mortality at 24 hours and 30 days and hemostasis. Secondary outcomes included cause of death, complications, and hospital-, intensive care unit (ICU)-, and ventilator-free days. Continuous variables were compared using Wilcoxon rank sum tests. Categorical variables were compared using Fisher’s exact tests. There were 261 PROPPR patients who achieved hemostasis or died before receiving a second cooler of blood products (137 received platelets and 124 did not). Patients who received platelets also received more total plasma (median, 3 vs 2 U; P < .05) by PROPPR intervention design. There were no differences in total red blood cell transfusions between groups. After controlling for plasma volume, patients who received platelets had significantly decreased 24-hour (5.8% vs 16.9%; P < .05) and 30-day mortality (9.5% vs 20.2%; P < .05). More patients in the platelet group achieved hemostasis (94.9% vs 73.4%; P < .01), and fewer died as a result of exsanguination (1.5% vs 12.9%; P < .01). Patients who received platelets had a shorter time on mechanical ventilation (P < .05); however, no differences in hospital- or ICU-free days were observed. In conclusion, early platelet administration is associated with improved hemostasis and reduced mortality in severely injured, bleeding patients. This trial was registered at as # NCT01545232.


Patients with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) can experience a severe disease course, with progressive destructive polyarthritis refractory to conventional therapy with disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs including biologics, as well as life-threatening complications including macrophage activation syndrome (MAS). Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT) is a potentially curative immunomodulatory strategy for patients with such refractory disease. We treated 16 patients in 5 transplant centers between 2007 and 2016: 11 children with systemic JIA and 5 with rheumatoid factor-negative polyarticular JIA; all were either refractory to standard therapy, had developed secondary hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis/MAS poorly responsive to treatment, or had failed autologous HSCT. All children received reduced toxicity fludarabine-based conditioning regimens and serotherapy with alemtuzumab. Fourteen of 16 patients are alive with a median follow-up of 29 months (range, 2.8-96 months). All patients had hematological recovery. Three patients had grade II-IV acute graft-versus-host disease. The incidence of viral infections after HSCT was high, likely due to the use of alemtuzumab in already heavily immunosuppressed patients. All patients had significant improvement of arthritis, resolution of MAS, and improved quality of life early following allo-HSCT; most importantly, 11 children achieved complete drug-free remission at the last follow-up. Allo-HSCT using alemtuzumab and reduced toxicity conditioning is a promising therapeutic option for patients with JIA refractory to conventional therapy and/or complicated by MAS. Long-term follow-up is required to ascertain whether disease control following HSCT continues indefinitely.

Concepts: Disease, Infectious disease, Infection, Graft-versus-host disease, Rheumatoid arthritis, Organ transplant, Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, Juvenile idiopathic arthritis


We completed a phase 1 dose-escalation trial to evaluate the safety of a dopamine receptor D2 (DRD2) antagonist thioridazine (TDZ), in combination with cytarabine. Thirteen patients 55 years and older with relapsed or refractory acute myeloid leukemia (AML) were enrolled. Oral TDZ was administered at 3 dose levels: 25 mg (n = 6), 50 mg (n = 4), or 100 mg (n = 3) every 6 hours for 21 days. Intermediate-dose cytarabine was administered on days 6 to 10. Dose-limiting toxicities (DLTs) included grade 3 QTc interval prolongation in 1 patient at 25 mg TDZ and neurological events in 2 patients at 100 mg TDZ (gait disturbance, depressed consciousness, and dizziness). At the 50-mg TDZ dose, the sum of circulating DRD2 antagonist levels approached a concentration of 10 μM, a level noted to be selectively active against human AML in vitro. Eleven of 13 patients completed a 5-day lead-in with TDZ, of which 6 received TDZ with hydroxyurea and 5 received TDZ alone. During this period, 8 patients demonstrated a 19% to 55% reduction in blast levels, whereas 3 patients displayed progressive disease. The extent of blast reduction during this 5-day interval was associated with the expression of the putative TDZ target receptor DRD2 on leukemic cells. These preliminary results suggest that DRD2 represents a potential therapeutic target for AML disease. Future studies are required to corroborate these observations, including the use of modified DRD2 antagonists with improved tolerability in AML patients. This trial was registered at as #NCT02096289.


Fumagillin is an antiangiogenic and antineoplastic fungal natural product, and TNP-470 is one of its most potent analogs. Decades of studies revealed that TNP-470 has potent anticancer activities via destruction of neovasculature. In stark contrast, TNP-470 has been reported to suppress lymphocyte proliferation, thereby limiting its clinical potentials. In an attempt to investigate whether the similar or opposite immunomodulatory effect of TNP-470 could act on myeloid cells, we found that TNP-470 potentiates the immunogenicity of dendritic cells (DCs) toward a phenotype with T helper cell type 1 (Th1)-stimulatory features. Using DC vaccine on a murine melanoma cancer model, the TNP-470-treated DC vaccine could significantly induce tumor-specific immunogenicity and substantially enhance tumor eradication when compared with vehicle-treated DC vaccine in a prophylactic setting. Enhanced tumor-specific immunogenicity and delayed tumor progression were observed in a therapeutic setting upon the TNP-470-treated DC vaccine. Our data showed that TNP-470 potentiates Toll-like receptor signaling, including NF-κB activation, in DCs to transcriptionally activate interleukin-12 production, thus inducing a Th1-immune response. Our current study uncovers a novel immune function of TNP-470 in DCs and redefines its role as a novel class of small molecule immune adjuvant in DC-based cancer vaccine given potentiation of DC immunogenicity is a major roadblock in DC vaccine development. Our study not only provides a novel adjuvant for ex vivo-cultured patient-specific DC vaccines for cancer treatment but also discovers the distinct immunostimulatory function of TNP-470 in DCs of myeloid lineage that differs from its immunosuppressive function in lymphoid cells.


CD38 is a transmembrane exoenzyme that is associated with poor prognosis in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). High CD38 levels in CLL cells are linked to increased cell migration, but the molecular basis is unknown. CD38 produces nicotinic acid adenine dinucleotide phosphate and adenosine 5'-diphosphate-ribose, both of which can act to increase intracellular Ca2+ levels. Here we show that CD38 expression increases basal intracellular Ca2+ levels and stimulates CLL cell migration both with and without chemokine stimulation. We find that CD38 acts via intracellular Ca2+ to increase the activity of the Ras family GTPase Rap1, which is in turn regulated by the Ca2+-sensitive Rap1 guanine-nucleotide exchange factor RasGRP2. Both Rap1 and RasGRP2 are required for CLL cell migration, and RasGRP2 is polarized in primary CLL cells with high CD38 levels. These results indicate that CD38 promotes RasGRP2/Rap1-mediated CLL cell adhesion and migration by increasing intracellular Ca2+ levels.


Sickle cell anemia (SCA) is caused by a point mutation in the β-globin gene that leads to devastating downstream consequences including chronic hemolytic anemia, episodic vascular occlusion, and cumulative organ damage resulting in death. SCA patients show coagulation activation and inflammation even in the absence of vascular occlusion. The coagulation factor fibrinogen is not only central to hemostasis but also plays important roles in pathologic inflammatory processes, in part by engaging neutrophils/macrophages through the αMβ2 integrin receptor. To determine whether fibrin(ogen)-mediated inflammation is a driver of SCA-associated pathologies, hematopoietic stem cells from Berkeley sickle mice were transplanted into homozygous Fibγ390-396A mice that express normal levels of a mutant form of fibrin(ogen) that does not engage αMβ2 Fibγ390-396A mice with SCA displayed an impressive reduction of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in white blood cells (WBCs), decreased circulating inflammatory cytokines/chemokines, and significantly improved SCA-associated glomerular pathology highlighted by reduced glomerulosclerosis, inflammatory cell infiltration, ischemic lesions, mesangial thickening, mesangial hypercellularity, and glomerular enlargement. In addition, Fibγ390-396A mice with SCA had improved glomerular protective responses and podocyte/mesangial transcriptional signatures that resulted in reduced albuminuria. Interestingly, the fibrinogen γ390-396A mutation had a negligible effect on cardiac, lung, and liver functions and pathologies in the context of SCA over a year-long observation period. Taken together, our data support that fibrinogen significantly contributes to WBC-driven inflammation and ROS production, which is a key driver of SCA-associated glomerulopathy, and may represent a novel therapeutic target against irreversible kidney damage in SCA.


The main complication of replacement therapy with factor in hemophilia A (HemA) is the formation of inhibitors (neutralizing anti-factor VIII [FVIII] antibodies) in ∼30% of severe HemA patients. Because these inhibitors render replacement FVIII treatment essentially ineffective, preventing or eliminating them is of top priority in disease management. The extended half-life recombinant FVIII Fc fusion protein (rFVIIIFc) is an approved therapy for HemA patients. In addition, it has been reported that rFVIIIFc may induce tolerance to FVIII more readily than FVIII alone in HemA patients that have developed inhibitors. Given that the immunoglobulin G1 Fc region has the potential to interact with immune cells expressing Fc receptors (FcRs) and thereby affect the immune response to rFVIII, we investigated how human macrophages, expressing both FcRs and receptors reported to bind FVIII, respond to rFVIIIFc. We show herein that rFVIIIFc, but not rFVIII, uniquely skews macrophages toward an alternatively activated regulatory phenotype. rFVIIIFc initiates signaling events that result in morphological changes, as well as a specific gene expression and metabolic profile that is characteristic of the regulatory type Mox/M2-like macrophages. Further, these changes are dependent on rFVIIIFc-FcR interactions. Our findings elucidate mechanisms of potential immunomodulatory properties of rFVIIIFc.


Platelet-associated complications including thrombosis, thrombocytopenia, and hemorrhage are commonly observed during various inflammatory diseases such as sepsis, inflammatory bowel disease, and psoriasis. Despite the reported evidence on numerous mechanisms/molecules that may contribute to the dysfunction of platelets, the primary mechanisms that underpin platelet-associated complications during inflammatory diseases are not fully established. Here, we report the discovery of formyl peptide receptor 2, FPR2/ALX, in platelets and its primary role in the development of platelet-associated complications via ligation with its ligand, LL37. LL37 acts as a powerful endogenous antimicrobial peptide, but it also regulates innate immune responses. We demonstrate the impact of LL37 in the modulation of platelet reactivity, hemostasis, and thrombosis. LL37 activates a range of platelet functions, enhances thrombus formation, and shortens the tail bleeding time in mice. By utilizing a pharmacological inhibitor and Fpr2/3 (an ortholog of human FPR2/ALX)-deficient mice, the functional dependence of LL37 on FPR2/ALX was determined. Because the level of LL37 is increased in numerous inflammatory diseases, these results point toward a critical role for LL37 and FPR2/ALX in the development of platelet-related complications in such diseases. Hence, a better understanding of the clinical relevance of LL37 and FPR2/ALX in diverse pathophysiological settings will pave the way for the development of improved therapeutic strategies for a range of thromboinflammatory diseases.


Programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) and its receptor, programmed cell death-1 (PD-1), are important negative regulators of immune cell activation. Therapeutically targeting PD-1/PD-L1 in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) patients with a single agent has limited activity, meriting a deeper understanding of this complex biology and of available PD-L1 clinical assays. In this study, we leveraged 2 large de novo DLBCL phase 3 trials (GOYA and MAIN) to better understand the biologic and clinical relevance of PD-L1 in de novo DLBCL. PD-L1 was expressed on myeloid cells in 85% to 95% of DLBCL patients (depending on staining procedure), compared with 10% on tumor cells, and correlated with macrophage gene expression. PD-L1 did not identify high-risk patients in de novo DLBCL; it correlated with STAT3, macrophage gene expression, and improved outcomes among a subset of patients. These results may help identify immunologically distinct DLBCL subsets relevant for checkpoint blockade. GOYA and MAIN trials were registered at as #NCT01287741 and #NCT00486759, respectively.