Increased Pretransplant Frequency of CD28+ CD4+ TEM Predicts Belatacept-Resistant Rejection in Human Renal Transplant Recipients.
ABSTRACT: 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: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 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: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:<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: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: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:Costimulation blockade with the B7-CD28 pathway-specific agent belatacept is now used in clinical kidney transplantation, but its efficacy remains imperfect. Numerous alternate costimulatory pathways have been proposed as targets to synergize with belatacept, one of which being the inducible costimulator (ICOS)-ICOS ligand (ICOS-L) pathway. Combined ICOS-ICOS-L and CD28-B7 blockade has been shown to prevent rejection in mice, but has not been studied in primates. We therefore tested a novel ICOS-Ig human Fc-fusion protein in a nonhuman primate (NHP) kidney transplant model alone and in combination with belatacept. ICOS-Ig did not prolong rejection-free survival as a monotherapy or in combination with belatacept. In ICOS-Ig alone treated animals, most graft-infiltrating CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells expressed ICOS, and ICOS(+) T cells were present in peripheral blood to a lesser degree. Adding belatacept reduced the proportion of graft-infiltrating ICOS(+) T cells and virtually eliminated their presence in peripheral blood. Graft-infiltrating T cells in belatacept-resistant rejection were primarily CD8(+) CD28(-) , but importantly, very few CD8(+) CD28(-) T cells expressed ICOS. We conclude that ICOS-Ig, alone or combined with belatacept, does not prolong renal allograft survival in NHPs. This may relate to selective loss of ICOS with CD28 loss.
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: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.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Increased acute rejection risk in rescue protocols with Belatacept may limit its use particularly in medically complex patients where preexisting increased risk of rejection couples with CNI toxicity.<h4>Methods</h4>Retrospective analysis was performed in 19 KTs shifted to a Belatacept-based immunosuppression with low-dose Tacrolimus (2-3 ng/mL) after evidence of allograft disfunction, including patients with primary non-function (PNF), chronic-active antibody-mediated rejection (cAMR), history of previous KTs and/or other concomitant transplants (liver, pancreas). Evaluation of CD28+ CD4+ effector memory T cell (TEM) before conversion was performed in 10/19.<h4>Results</h4>Kidney function significantly improved (median eGFR 16.5 ml/min/1.73m2 before vs 25 ml/min after; p = 0.001) at a median time after conversion of 12.5 months (9.1-17.8). Overall graft and patient survival were 89.5% and 100% respectively. Definitive weaning from dialysis in 5/5 KTs with PNF was observed, whereas 7/8 patients lost their graft within first year in a control group. eGFR significantly ameliorated in re-trasplants (p = 0.001) and stabilized in KTs with other organ transplants or cAMR. No acute rejection episodes occurred, despite the significant risk suggested by high frequency of CD28+ CD4+ TEM in most patients. Opportunistic infections were limited and most common in early vs late-converted.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Rescue association of Belatacept with low-dose Tacrolimus in medically complex KTs is a feasible option that allows prevention of acute rejection and amelioration of graft function.