A novel approach to improve immune effector responses post transplant by restoration of CCL21 expression

Heather E. Stefanski, Leslie Jonart, Emily Goren, James J. Mulé, Bruce R. Blazar

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7 Scopus citations


Chemotherapy or chemoradiotherapy conditioning regimens required for bone marrow transplantation (BMT) cause significant morbidity and mortality as a result of insufficient immune surveillance mechanisms leading to increased risks of infection and tumor recurrence. Such conditioning causes host stromal cell injury, impairing restoration of the central (thymus) and peripheral (spleen and lymph node) T cell compartments and slow immune reconstitution. The chemokine, CCL21, produced by host stromal cells, recruits T- and B-cells that provide lymphotoxin mediated instructive signals to stromal cells for lymphoid organogenesis. Moreover, T- and B-cell recruitment into these sites is required for optimal adaptive immune responses to pathogens and tumor antigens. Previously, we reported that CCL21 was markedly reduced in secondary lymphoid organs of transplanted animals. Here, we utilized adenoviral CCL21 gene transduced dendritic cells (DC/CCL21) given by footpad injections as a novel approach to restore CCL21 expression in secondary lymphoid organs post-transplant. CCL21 expression in secondary lymphoid organs reached levels of naïve controls and resulted in increased T cell trafficking to draining lymph nodes (LNs). An increase in both lymphoid tissue inducer cells and the B cell chemokine CXCL13 known to be important in LN formation was observed. Strikingly, only mice vaccinated with DC/CCL21 loaded with bacterial, viral or tumor antigens and not recipients of DC/control adenovirus loaded cells or no DCs had a marked increase in the systemic clearance of pathogens (bacteria; virus) and leukemia cells. Because DC/CCL21 vaccines have been tested in clinical trials for patients with lung cancer and melanoma, our studies provide the foundation for future trials of DC/CCL21 vaccination in patients receiving pre-transplant conditioning regimens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0193461
JournalPloS one
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The National Institute of Health (Grant No. CA72669 to BRB). The funders had no role in study design, data collection or analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Stefanski et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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