Alloreactive CD154-expressing T-cell subsets with differential sensitivity to the immunosuppressant, belatacept: potential targets of novel belatacept-based regimens.
ABSTRACT: Belatacept blocks CD28-mediated T-cell costimulation and prevents renal transplant rejection. Understanding T-cell subset sensitivity to belatacept may identify cellular markers for immunosuppression failure to better guide treatment selection. Here, we evaluate the belatacept sensitivity of allo-antigen-specific CD154-expressing-T-cells, whose T-cytotoxic memory (TcM) subset predicts rejection with high sensitivity after non-renal transplantation. The belatacept concentration associated with half-maximal reduction (EC50) of CD154 expression was calculated for 36 T-cell subsets defined by combinations of T-helper (Th), Tc, T-memory and CD28 receptors, following allostimulation of peripheral blood leukocytes from 20 normal healthy subjects. Subsets were ranked by median EC50, and by whether subset EC50 was correlated with and therefore could be represented by the frequency of other subsets. No single subset frequency emerged as the significant correlate of EC50 for a given subset. Most (n = 25) T-cell subsets were sensitive to belatacept. Less sensitive subsets demonstrated a memory phenotype and absence of CD28 receptor. Potential drug-resistance markers for future validation include the low frequency highly differentiated, Th-memory-CD28-negative T-cells with the highest median EC50, and the least differentiated, high-frequency Tc subset, with the most CD28-negative T-cells, the third highest median EC50, and significant correlations with frequencies of the highest number of CD28-negative and memory subsets.
Project description:The CD28/cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA-4)blocker belatacept selectively inhibits alloreactive T cell responses but is associated with a high incidence of acute rejection following renal transplantation,which led us to investigate the etiology of belatacept–resistant graft rejection. T cells can differentiate into functionally distinct subsets of memory T cellsthat collectively enable protection against diverse classes of pathogens and can cross-react with allogeneicantigen and mediate graft rejection. T helper 17(Th17) cells are a pro-inflammatory CD4+ lineage that provides immunity to pathogens and are pathogenic in autoimmune disease. We found that T helper 1 (Th1)and Th17 memory compartments contained a similar frequency of divided cells following allogeneic stimulation.Compared to Th1 cells, Th17 memory cells expressed significantly higher levels of the coinhibitory molecule CTLA-4. Stimulation in the presence of belatacept inhibited Th1 responses but augmented Th17 cells due to greater sensitivity to coinhibition by CTLA-4. Th17 cells from renal transplant recipients were resistant to ex vivo CD28/CTLA-4 blockade with belatacept, and an elevated frequency of Th17 memory cells was associated with acute rejection during belatacept therapy. These data highlight important differences in costimulatory and coinhibitory requirements of CD4+ memory subsets, and demonstrate that the heterogeneity of pathogen-derived memory has implications for immunomodulation strategies.
Project description:Belatacept is used to prevent allograft rejection but fails to do so in a sizable minority of patients due to inadequate control of costimulation-resistant T cells. In this study, we report control of costimulation-resistant rejection when belatacept was combined with perioperative alemtuzumab-mediated lymphocyte depletion and rapamycin. To assess the means by which the alemtuzumab, belatacept and rapamycin (ABR) regimen controls belatacept-resistant rejection, we studied 20 ABR-treated patients and characterized peripheral lymphocyte phenotype and functional responses to donor, third-party and viral antigens using flow cytometry, intracellular cytokine staining and carboxyfluorescein succinimidyl ester-based lymphocyte proliferation. Compared with conventional immunosuppression in 10 patients, lymphocyte depletion evoked substantial homeostatic lymphocyte activation balanced by regulatory T and B cell phenotypes. The reconstituted T cell repertoire was enriched for CD28(+) naïve cells, notably diminished in belatacept-resistant CD28(-) memory subsets and depleted of polyfunctional donor-specific T cells but able to respond to third-party and latent herpes viruses. B cell responses were similarly favorable, without alloantibody development and a reduction in memory subsets-changes not seen in conventionally treated patients. The ABR regimen uniquely altered the immune profile, producing a repertoire enriched for CD28(+) T cells, hyporesponsive to donor alloantigen and competent in its protective immune capabilities. The resulting repertoire was permissive for control of rejection with belatacept monotherapy.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>The co-stimulatory inhibitor of the CD28-CD80/86-pathway, belatacept, allows calcineurin-inhibitor-free immunosuppression in kidney transplantation. However, aggressive T-cell mediated allogeneic responses have been observed in belatacept-treated patients, which could be explained by effector-memory T-cells that lack membrane expression of CD28, i.e. CD28-negative (CD28NULL) T-cells. CD28-positive (CD28POS) T-cells that down regulate their surface CD28 after allogeneic stimulation could also pose a threat against the renal graft. The aim of this study was to investigate this potential escape mechanism for CD28POS T-cells under belatacept treatment.<h4>Materials & methods</h4>PBMCs, isolated T-cell memory subsets and isolated CD28POS T-cells were obtained from end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients and co-cultured with allo-antigen in the presence of belatacept to mimic allogeneic reactions in kidney-transplant patients under belatacept treatment. As a control, IgG was used in the absence of belatacept.<h4>Results</h4>Despite high in vitro belatacept concentrations, a residual T-cell growth of ±30% was observed compared to the IgG control after allogeneic stimulation. Of the alloreactive T-cells, the majority expressed an effector-memory phenotype. This predominance for effector-memory T-cells within the proliferated cells was even larger when a higher dose of belatacept was added. Contrary to isolated naïve and central-memory T cells, isolated effector-memory T cells could not be inhibited by belatacept in differentiation or allogeneic IFN? production. The proportion of CD28-positive T cells was lower within the proliferated T cell population, but was still substantial. A fair number of the isolated initially CD28POS T-cells differentiated into CD28NULL T-cells, which made them not targetable by belatacept. These induced CD28NULL T-cells were not anergic as they produced high amounts of IFN? upon allogeneic stimulation. The majority of the proliferated isolated originally CD28POS T-cells, however, still expressed CD28 and also expressed IFN?.<h4>Conclusion</h4>This study provides evidence that, apart from CD28NULL T-cells, also CD28POS, mostly effector-memory T-cells can mediate allogeneic responses despite belatacept treatment.
Project description:Recently, newer therapies have been designed to more specifically target rejection in an effort to improve efficacy and limit unwanted toxicity. Belatacept, a CD28-CD80/86 specific reagent, is associated with superior patient survival and graft function compared with traditional therapy, but its adoption as a mainstay immunosuppressive therapy has been tempered by increased rejection rates. It is essential that the underlying mechanisms associated with this rejection be elucidated before belatacept is more widely used. To that end, we designed a study in a nonhuman primate kidney transplant model where animals were treated with either a belatacept- or a tacrolimus-based immunosuppressive regimen. Interestingly, we found that elevated pretransplant frequencies of CD28+ CD8+ TEMRA cells are associated with rejection on belatacept but not tacrolimus treatment. Further analysis showed that the CD28+ CD8+ TEMRA cells rapidly lose CD28 expression after transplant in those animals that go on to reject with the allograft infiltrate being predominantly CD28- . These data suggest that CD28+ memory T cells may be resistant to belatacept, capable of further differentiation including loss of CD28 expression while maintaining effector function. The unique signaling requirements of CD28+ memory T cells provide opportunities for the development of targeted therapies, which may synergize with belatacept to prevent costimulation-independent rejection.
Project description:Belatacept is a biologic that targets CD80/86 and prevents its interaction with CD28 and its alternative ligand, cytotoxic T lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA-4). Clinical experience in kidney transplantation has revealed a high incidence of rejection with belatacept, especially with intensive regimens, suggesting that blocking CTLA-4 is deleterious. We performed a head to head assessment of FR104 (n=5), a selective pegylated Fab' antibody fragment antagonist of CD28 that does not block the CTLA-4 pathway, and belatacept (n=5) in kidney allotransplantation in baboons. The biologics were supplemented with an initial 1-month treatment with low-dose tacrolimus. In cases of acute rejection, animals also received steroids. In the belatacept group, four of five recipients developed severe, steroid-resistant acute cellular rejection, whereas FR104-treated animals did not. Assessment of regulatory T cell-specific demethylated region methylation status in 1-month biopsy samples revealed a nonsignificant trend for higher regulatory T cell frequencies in FR104-treated animals. Transcriptional analysis did not reveal significant differences in Th17 cytokines but did reveal higher levels of IL-21, the main cytokine secreted by CD4 T follicular helper (Tfh) cells, in belatacept-treated animals. In vitro, FR104 controlled the proliferative response of human preexisting Tfh cells more efficiently than belatacept. In mice, selective CD28 blockade also controlled Tfh memory cell responses to KLH stimulation more efficiently than CD80/86 blockade. Our data reveal that selective CD28 blockade and belatacept exert different effects on mechanisms of renal allograft rejection, particularly at the level of Tfh cell stimulation.
Project description:While most human T cells express the CD28 costimulatory molecule constitutively, it is well known that age, inflammation, and viral infection can drive the generation of CD28null T cells. In vitro studies have demonstrated that CD28null cell effector function is not impacted by the presence of the CD28 costimulation blocker belatacept. As such, a prevailing hypothesis suggests that CD28null cells may precipitate costimulation blockade-resistant rejection. However, CD28+ cells possess more proliferative and multifunctional capacity, factors that may increase their ability to successfully mediate rejection. Here, we performed a retrospective immunophenotypic analysis of adult renal transplant recipients who experienced acute rejection on belatacept treatment as compared to those who did not. Intriguingly, our findings suggest that patients possessing higher frequency of CD28+ CD4+ TEM prior to transplant were more likely to experience acute rejection following treatment with a belatacept-based immunosuppressive regimen. Mechanistically, CD28+ CD4+ TEM contained significantly more IL-2 producers. In contrast, CD28null CD4+ TEM isolated from stable belatacept-treated patients exhibited higher expression of the 2B4 coinhibitory molecule as compared to those isolated from patients who rejected. These data raise the possibility that pretransplant frequencies of CD28+ CD4+ TEM could be used as a biomarker to predict risk of rejection following treatment with belatacept.
Project description:Belatacept is a B7-specific fusion protein used to prevent allograft rejection by blocking T cell costimulation. Generally efficacious, it fails to prevent acute rejection in a sizable minority of patients. In experimental models, memory T cells mediate costimulation blockade-resistant rejection (CoBRR), but this remains undefined in humans. To explore relationships between individual patients' immune cell phenotypes and CoBRR, we studied patients receiving belatacept or conventional calcineurin inhibitor-based immunosuppression. We identified a population of CD57(+) PD1(-) CD4 T cells present prior to transplantation that correlated with CoBRR. Contrary to data recognizing CD57 as a marker of senescence on CD8 T cells, we discovered a nonsenescent, cytolytic phenotype associated with CD57 on CD4 T cells. Moreover, CD57(+) CD4 T cells expressed high levels of adhesion molecules implicated in experimental CoBRR, were CD28(-) , expressed a transcriptional phenotype broadly defining allograft rejection and were shown to be present in rejecting human kidney allografts. These data implicate CD57(+) CD4 T cells in clinical CoBRR. If prospectively validated, this characteristic could identify patients at higher risk for acute rejection on belatacept-based therapy.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Renal allograft rejection is more frequent under belatacept-based, compared with tacrolimus-based, immunosuppression. We studied kidney transplant recipients experiencing rejection under belatacept-based early corticosteroid withdrawal following T-cell-depleting induction in a recent randomized trial (Belatacept-based Early Steroid Withdrawal Trial, clinicaltrials.gov NCT01729494) to determine mechanisms of rejection and treatment. METHODS:Peripheral mononuclear cells, serum creatinine levels, and renal biopsies were collected from 8 patients undergoing belatacept-refractory rejection (BRR). We used flow cytometry, histology, and immunofluorescence to characterize CD8 effector memory T cell (TEM) populations in the periphery and graft before and after mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibition. RESULTS:Here, we found that patients with BRR did not respond to standard antirejection therapy and had a substantial increase in alloreactive CD8 T cells with a CD28/DR/CD38/CD45RO TEM. These cells had increased activation of the mTOR pathway, as assessed by phosphorylated ribosomal protein S6 expression. Notably, everolimus (an mTOR inhibitor) treatment of patients with BRR halted the in vivo proliferation of TEM cells and their ex vivo alloreactivity and resulted in their significant reduction in the peripheral blood. The frequency of circulating FoxP3 regulatory T cells was not altered. Importantly, everolimus led to rapid resolution of rejection as confirmed by histology. CONCLUSIONS:Thus, while prior work has shown that concomitant belatacept?+?mTOR inhibitor therapy is effective for maintenance immunosuppression, our preliminary data suggest that everolimus may provide an available means for effecting "rescue" therapy for rejections occurring under belatacept that are refractory to traditional antirejection therapy with corticosteroids and polyclonal antilymphocyte globulin.
Project description:Humoral alloreactivity has been recognized as a common cause of kidney transplant dysfunction. B-cell activation, differentiation, and antibody production are dependent on IL-21+CXCR5+follicular T-helper (Tfh) cells. Here, we studied whether belatacept, an inhibitor of the costimulatory CD28-CD80/86-pathway, interrupts the crosstalk between Tfh- and B-cells more efficiently than the calcineurin inhibitor tacrolimus. The suppressive effects of belatacept and tacrolimus on donor antigen-driven Tfh-B-cell interaction were functionally studied in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 40 kidney transplant patients randomized to a belatacept- or tacrolimus-based immunosuppressive regimen. No significant differences in uncultured cells or donor antigen-stimulated cells were found between belatacept- and tacrolimus-treated patients in the CXCR5+Tfh cell generation and activation (upregulation of PD-1). Belatacept and tacrolimus in vitro minimally inhibited Tfh-cell generation (by ~6-7%) and partially prevented Tfh-cell activation (by ~30-50%). The proportion of IL-21+-activated Tfh-cells was partially decreased by in vitro addition of belatacept or tacrolimus (by ~60%). Baseline expressions and proportions of activated CD86+ B-cells, plasmablasts, and transitional B-cells after donor antigen stimulation did not differ between belatacept- and tacrolimus-treated patients. Donor antigen-driven CD86 upregulation on memory B-cells was not fully prevented by adding belatacept in vitro (~35%), even in supratherapeutic doses. In contrast to tacrolimus, belatacept failed to inhibit donor antigen-driven plasmablast formation (~50% inhibition vs. no inhibition, respectively, p?<?0.0001). In summary, donor antigen-driven Tfh-B-cell crosstalk is similar in cells obtained from belatacept- and tacrolimus-treated patients. Belatacept is, however, less potent in vitro than tacrolimus in inhibiting Tfh-cell-dependent plasmablast formation.
Project description:Belatacept is an inhibitor of CD28/B7 costimulation that is clinically indicated as a calcineurin inhibitor (CNI) alternative in combination with mycophenolate mofetil and steroids after renal transplantation. We sought to develop a clinically translatable, nonlymphocyte depleting, belatacept-based regimen that could obviate the need for both CNIs and steroids. Thus, based on murine data showing synergy between costimulation blockade and mTOR inhibition, we studied rhesus monkeys undergoing MHC-mismatched renal allotransplants treated with belatacept and the mTOR inhibitor, sirolimus. To extend prior work on costimulation blockade-resistant rejection, some animals also received CD2 blockade with alefacept (LFA3-Ig). Belatacept and sirolimus therapy successfully prevented rejection in all animals. Tolerance was not induced, as animals rejected after withdrawal of therapy. The regimen did not deplete T cells. Alefecept did not add a survival benefit to the optimized belatacept and sirolimus regimen, despite causing an intended depletion of memory T cells, and caused a marked reduction in regulatory T cells. Furthermore, alefacept-treated animals had a significantly increased incidence of CMV reactivation, suggesting that this combination overly compromised protective immunity. These data support belatacept and sirolimus as a clinically translatable, nondepleting, CNI-free, steroid-sparing immunomodulatory regimen that promotes sustained rejection-free allograft survival after renal transplantation.