A critical question facing the field of transplantation is how to control effector T cell (Teff) activation while preserving regulatory T cell (Treg) function. Standard calcineurin inhibitor-based strategies can partially control Teffs, but breakthrough activation still occurs, and these agents are antagonistic to Treg function. Conversely, mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibition with sirolimus is more Treg-compatible but is inadequate to fully control Teff activation. In contrast, blockade of OX40L signaling has the capacity to partially control Teff activation despite maintaining Treg function. We used the nonhuman primate graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) model to probe the efficacy of combinatorial immunomodulation with sirolimus and the OX40L-blocking antibody KY1005. Our results demonstrate significant biologic activity of KY1005 alone (prolonging median GVHD-free survival from 8 to 19.5 days), as well as marked, synergistic control of GVHD with KY1005 + sirolimus (median survival time, >100 days; P < 0.01 compared to all other regimens), which was associated with potent control of both TH/TC1 (T helper cell 1/cytotoxic T cell 1) and TH/TC17 activation. Combined administration also maintained Treg reconstitution [resulting in an enhanced Treg/Teff ratio (40% over baseline) in the KY1005/sirolimus cohort compared to a 2.9-fold decrease in the unprophylaxed GVHD cohort]. This unique immunologic signature resulted in transplant recipients that were able to control GVHD for the length of analysis and to down-regulate donor/ recipient alloreactivity despite maintaining anti-third-party responses. These data indicate that combined OX40L blockade and sirolimus represents a promising strategy to induce immune balance after transplant and is an important candidate regimen for clinical translation.
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This study was conducted in strict accordance with U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations and the recommendations in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals of the National Institutes of Health. It was approved by the Emory University and the University of Washington Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees.
© 2017 The Authors.