Chronic graft-versus-host disease (cGVHD) is a major complication of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. In cGVHD, alloreactive T cells and germinal center (GC) B cells often participate in GC reactions to produce pathogenic antibodies. Although regulatory T cells (Tregs) can inhibitGCreactions, Treg numbers are reduced in cGVHD, contributing to cGVHD pathogenesis. Here, we explored 2 means to increase Tregs in cGVHD: interleukin-2/monoclonal antibody (IL-2/mAb) complexes and donor Treg infusions. IL-2/mAb complexes given over 1 month were efficacious in expanding Tregs and treating established cGVHD in a multi-organ-system disease mouse model characterized by GC reactions, antibody deposition, and lung dysfunction. In an acute GVHD (aGVHD) model, IL-2/mAb complexes given for only 4 days resulted in rapid mortality, indicating IL-2/mAb complexes can drive conventional T-cell (Tcon)-mediated injury. In contrast, Treg infusions, which uniformly suppress aGVHD, increased Treg frequency and were effective in preventing the onset of, and treating, established cGVHD. Efficacy was dependent upon CXCR5-sufficient Tregs homing to, and inhibiting, GC reactions. These studies indicate that the infusion of Tregs, especially ones enriched for GC homing, may be desirable for cGVHD therapy. Although IL-2/mAb complexes can be efficacious in cGVHD, a cautious approach needs to be taken in settings in which aGVHD elements, and associated Tcon, are present.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute grants P01 CA142106-08A1 (B.R.B.) and R01 CA183560 (J.R.); National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases grants P01 AI056299-13 (B.R.B.) and T32 AI007313 (C.M.-H. and R.F.); National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute F30 HL121873 (C.M.-H.); and Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Translational Research grants 6458-15 (B.R.B.) and 6462-15 (I.M. and B.R.B.).