BET Bromodomain Inhibitors Which Permit Treg Function Enable a Combinatorial Strategy to Suppress GVHD in Pre-clinical Allogeneic HSCT.
ABSTRACT: A recent approach for limiting production of pro-inflammatory cytokines has been to target bromodomain and extra-terminal (BET) proteins. These epigenetic readers of histone acetylation regulate transcription of genes involved in inflammation, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Development of BET inhibitors (BETi) has generated enormous interest for their therapeutic potential. Because inflammatory signals and donor T cells promote graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), regulating both pathways could be effective to abrogate this disorder. The objective of the present study was to identify a BETi which did not interfere in vivo with CD4+FoxP3+ regulatory T cell (Treg) expansion and function to utilize together with Tregs following allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (aHSCT) to ameliorate GVHD. We have reported that Tregs can be markedly expanded and selectively activated with increased functional capacity by targeting TNFRSF25 and CD25 with TL1A-Ig and low dose IL-2, respectively. Here, mice were treated over 7 days (TL1A-Ig + IL-2) together with BETi. We found that the BETi EP11313 did not decrease frequency/numbers or phenotype of expanded Tregs as well as effector molecules, such as IL-10 and TGF-?. However, BETi JQ1 interfered with Treg expansion and altered subset distribution and phenotype. Notably, in Treg expanded mice, EP11313 diminished tnfa and ifng but not il-2 RNA levels. Remarkably, Treg pSTAT5 expression was not affected by EP11313 supporting the notion that Treg IL-2 signaling remained intact. MHC-mismatched aHSCT (B6 ? BALB/c) was performed using in vivo expanded donor Tregs with or without EP11313 short-term treatment in the recipient. Early post-transplant, improvement in the splenic and LN CD4/CD8 ratio along with fewer effector cells and high Treg levels in aHSCT recipients treated with expanded Tregs + EP11313 was detected. Interestingly, this group exhibited a significant diminution of GVHD clinical score with less skin and ocular involvement. Finally, using low numbers of highly purified expanded Tregs, improved clinical GVHD scores were observed in EP11313 treated recipients. In total, we conclude that use of this novel combinatorial strategy can suppress pre-clinical GVHD and posit, in vivo EP11313 treatment might be useful combined with Treg expansion therapy for treatment of diseases involving inflammatory responses.
Project description:Regulatory T cells (Tregs) are essential for the maintenance of tolerance and immune homeostasis. In allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (aHSCT), transfer of appropriate Treg numbers is a promising therapy for the prevention of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). We have recently reported a novel approach that induces the marked expansion and selective activation of Tregs in vivo by targeting tumor necrosis factor receptor superfamily 25 (TNFRSF25) and CD25. A potential advance to promote clinical application of Tregs to ameliorate GVHD and other disorders would be the generation of more potent Treg populations. Here we wanted to determine if very low doses of Tregs generated using the "2-pathway" stimulation protocol via TL1A-Ig fusion protein and low-dose IL-2 (targeting TNFRSF25 and CD25, respectively) could be used to regulate preclinical GVHD. Analysis of such 2-pathway expanded Tregs identified higher levels of activation and functional molecules (CD103, ICOS-1, Nrp-1, CD39, CD73, il-10, and tgfb1) versus unexpanded Tregs. Additionally, in vitro assessment of 2-pathway stimulated Tregs indicated enhanced suppressor activity. Notably, transplant of extremely low numbers of these Tregs (1:6 expanded Tregs/conventional T cells) suppressed GVHD after an MHC-mismatched aHSCT. Overall, these results demonstrate that 2-pathway stimulated CD4+?FoxP3+ Tregs were quantitatively and qualitatively more functionally effective than unexpanded Tregs. In total, the findings in this study support the notion that such 2-pathway stimulated Tregs may be useful for prevention of GVHD and ultimately promote more widespread application of aHSCT in the clinic.
Project description:Regulatory T cells (Tregs) are critical for self-tolerance. Although adoptive transfer of expanded Tregs limits graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), ex vivo generation of large numbers of functional Tregs remains difficult. Here, we demonstrate that in vivo targeting of the TNF superfamily receptor TNFRSF25 using the TL1A-Ig fusion protein, along with IL-2, resulted in transient but massive Treg expansion in donor mice, which peaked within days and was nontoxic. Tregs increased in multiple compartments, including blood, lymph nodes, spleen, and colon (GVHD target tissue). Tregs did not expand in bone marrow, a critical site for graft-versus-malignancy responses. Adoptive transfer of in vivo-expanded Tregs in the setting of MHC-mismatched or MHC-matched allogeneic HSCT significantly ameliorated GVHD. Critically, transplantation of Treg-expanded donor cells facilitated transplant tolerance without GVHD, with complete sparing of graft-versus-malignancy. This approach may prove valuable as a therapeutic strategy promoting transplantation tolerance.
Project description:Posttransplant cyclophosphamide (PTCy) has been found to be effective in ameliorating acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) in patients following allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (aHSCT). Adoptive transfer of high numbers of donor Tregs in experimental aHSCT has shown promise as a therapeutic modality for GVHD regulation. We recently described a strategy for in vivo Treg expansion targeting two receptors: TNFRSF25 and CD25. To date, there have been no direct comparisons between the use of PTCy and Tregs regarding outcome and immune reconstitution within identical groups of transplanted mice. Here, we assessed these two strategies and found both decreased clinical GVHD and improved survival long term. However, recipients transplanted with Treg-expanded donor cells (TrED) exhibited less weight loss early after HSCT. Additionally, TrED recipients demonstrated less thymic damage, significantly more recent thymic emigrants, and more rapid lymphoid engraftment. Three months after HSCT, PTCy-treated and TrED recipients showed tolerance to F1 skin allografts and comparable immune function. Overall, TrED was found superior to PTCy with regard to weight loss early after transplant and initial lymphoid engraftment. Based on these findings, we speculate that morbidity and mortality after transplant could be diminished following TrED transplant into aHSCT recipients, and, therefore, that TrED could provide a promising clinical strategy for GVHD prophylaxis.
Project description:Death receptor 3 (DR3) is a tumor necrosis factor receptor superfamily member (TNFRSF25), which is minimally expressed on resting conventional T cells (though readily inducible upon cell activation), yet highly expressed on resting FoxP3+ regulatory T cells (Treg). We recently demonstrated that activation of DR3 with an agonistic antibody (4C12) leads to selective expansion and activation of Treg in healthy mice and suppression of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) in recipient mice when donor mice are treated. However, given the long antibody half-life and concomitant safety concerns, along with the lack of a humanized agonistic antibody to DR3, both human and murine fusion proteins incorporating the natural DR3 ligand TL1A (TL1A-Ig) have been developed. Herein, we show that DR3 activation with 4C12 or with TL1A-Ig, with or without the addition of low dose IL-2 to the treatment regimen, led to a significant expansion of murine Treg in spleen, lymph nodes, and peripheral blood. Bioluminescent imaging revealed peak Treg expansion around day 7-8, with return to near baseline after 2-3 weeks. In addition to expansion, all DR3 agonist treatment regimens led to increased activation of Tregs, with significant upregulation of the activation markers ICOS, KLRG-1, PD-1, and CD103, and the proliferation marker Ki-67. The near absence of activated Treg populations in control treated spleens was also detected on tSNE analysis of flow cytometry data. Subtly different patterns of splenic Treg activation by the different DR3 agonists were noted in both tSNE analysis of flow cytometry data and RNA-sequencing analysis. However, upregulation of gene transcripts which play important roles in cell proliferation, trafficking, activation, and effector function were observed regardless of the DR3 agonist treatment regimen used. In the major MHC-mismatch model of hematopoietic cell transplantation, DR3 agonist-mediated expansion and activation of Tregs in donor mice led to a significant improvement in GVHD in recipient mice. These data provide important preclinical information regarding the outcome of DR3 activation with an agonistic antibody or natural ligand and provide insight into the therapeutic use of this approach to reduce GVHD in recipients and improve outcomes of hematopoietic cell transplantation.
Project description:Although CD4(+)CD25(+) T cells (T regulatory cells [Tregs]) and natural killer T cells (NKT cells) each protect against graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), interactions between these 2 regulatory cell populations after allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT) have not been studied. We show that host NKT cells can induce an in vivo expansion of donor Tregs that prevents lethal GVHD in mice after conditioning with fractionated lymphoid irradiation (TLI) and anti-T-cell antibodies, a regimen that models human GVHD-protective nonmyeloablative protocols using TLI and antithymocyte globulin (ATG), followed by allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT). GVHD protection was lost in NKT-cell-deficient Jalpha18(-/-) hosts and interleukin-4 (IL-4)(-/-) hosts, or when the donor transplant was Treg depleted. Add-back of donor Tregs or wild-type host NKT cells restored GVHD protection. Donor Treg proliferation was lost in IL-4(-/-) hosts or when IL-4(-/-) mice were used as the source of NKT cells for adoptive transfer, indicating that host NKT cell augmentation of donor Treg proliferation after TLI/antithymocyte serum is IL-4 dependent. Our results demonstrate that host NKT cells and donor Tregs can act synergistically after BMT, and provide a mechanism by which strategies designed to preserve host regulatory cells can augment in vivo donor Treg expansion to regulate GVHD after allogeneic HCT.
Project description:Helminths stimulate the secretion of Th2 cytokines, like IL-4, and suppress lethal graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) after bone marrow transplantation. This suppression depends on the production of immune-modulatory TGF-? and is associated with TGF-?-dependent in vivo expansion of Foxp3+ regulatory T cells (Treg). In vivo expansion of Tregs is under investigation for its potential as a therapy for GVHD. Nonetheless, the mechanism of induced and TGF-?-dependent in vivo expansion of Tregs, in a Th2 polarized environment after helminth infection, is unknown. In this study, we show that helminth-induced IL-4 production by host cells is critical to the induction and maintenance of TGF-? secretion, TGF-?-dependent expansion of Foxp3+ Tregs, and the suppression of GVHD. In mice with GVHD, the expanding donor Tregs express the Th2-driving transcription factor, GATA3, which is required for helminth-induced production of IL-4 and TGF-?. In contrast, TGF-? is not necessary for GATA3 expression by Foxp3+ Tregs or by Foxp3- CD4 T cells. Various cell types of innate or adaptive immune compartments produce high quantities of IL-4 after helminth infection. As a result, IL-4-mediated suppression of GVHD does not require invariant NKT cells of the host, a cell type known to produce IL-4 and suppress GVHD in other models. Thus, TGF-? generation, in a manner dependent on IL-4 secretion by host cells and GATA3 expression, constitutes a critical effector arm of helminthic immune modulation that promotes the in vivo expansion of Tregs and suppresses GVHD.
Project description:Regulatory T cells (Tregs) are essential in maintaining peripheral immunological tolerance by modulating several subsets of the immune system including monocytes. Under inflammatory conditions, monocytes migrate into the tissues, where they differentiate into dendritic cells or tissue-resident macrophages. As a result of their context-dependent plasticity, monocytes have been implicated in the development/progression of graft-vs-host disease (GvHD), autoimmune diseases and allograft rejection. In the last decade, Tregs have been exploited for their use in cell therapy with the aim to induce tolerance after solid organ transplantation and for the treatment of autoimmune diseases and GvHD. To date, safety and feasibility of Treg infusion has been demonstrated; however, many questions of how these cells induce tolerance have been raised and need to be answered. As monocytes constitute the major cellular component in inflamed tissues, we have developed an in vitro model to test how Tregs modulate their phenotype and function. We demonstrated that expanded Tregs can drive monocytes toward an alternatively activated state more efficiently than freshly isolated Tregs. The effect of expanded Tregs on monocytes led to a reduced production of pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-6 and tumor necrosis factor-?) and NF-?B activation. Furthermore, monocytes co-cultured with expanded Tregs downregulated the expression of co-stimulatory and MHC-class II molecules with a concomitant upregulation of M2 macrophage specific markers, CD206, heme oxygenase-1, and increased interleukin-10 production. Importantly, monocytes co-cultured with expanded Tregs showed a reduced capacity to expand IL-17-producing T cells compared with monocyte cultured with freshly isolated Tregs and conventional T cells. The capacity to decrease the expansion of pro-inflammatory Th-17 was not cytokine mediated but the consequence of their lower expression of the co-stimulatory molecule CD86. Our data suggest that expanded Tregs have the capacity to induce phenotypical and functional changes in monocytes that might be crucial for tolerance induction in transplantation and the prevention/treatment of GvHD and autoimmune diseases.
Project description:FoxP3(+) regulatory T cells (Tregs) suppress GVHD while preserving graft-versus-tumor effects, making them an attractive target for GVHD therapy. The donor-derived Treg pool can potentially be derived from the expansion of preexisting natural Tregs (nTregs) or from de novo generation of inducible Tregs (iTregs) from donor Tconvs in the transplantation recipient. Using an MHC-mismatched model of acute GVHD, in the present study we found that the Treg pool was comprised equally of donor-derived nTregs and iTregs. Experiments using various combinations of T cells from wild-type and FoxP3-deficient mice suggested that both preexisting donor nTregs and the generation of iTregs in the recipient mice contribute to protection against GVHD. Surprisingly, CD8(+)FoxP3(+) T cells represented approximately 70% of the iTreg pool. These CD8(+)FoxP3(+) T cells shared phenotypic markers with their CD4(+) counterparts and displayed suppressive activity, suggesting that they were bona fide iTregs. Both CD4(+) and CD8(+) Tregs appeared to be protective against GVHD-induced lethality and required IL-2 and TGF? receptor expression for their generation. These data illustrate the complex makeup of the donor-derived FoxP3(+) Treg pool in allogeneic recipients and their potential role in protection against GVHD.
Project description:Both CD4+ and CD8+ Tregs play a critical role in the control of immune responses and immune tolerance; however, our understanding of CD8+ Tregs is limited while they are particularly promising for therapeutic application. We report here existence of highly suppressive human CD8+CD45RClow/- Tregs expressing Foxp3 and producing IFN?, IL-10, IL-34, and TGF? to mediate their suppressive activity. We demonstrate that total CD8+CD45RClow/- Tregs can be efficiently expanded in the presence of anti-CD3/28 mAbs, high-dose IL-2 and IL-15 and that such expanded Tregs efficiently delay GVHD and human skin transplantation rejection in immune humanized mice. Robustly expanded CD8+ Tregs displayed a specific gene signature, upregulated cytokines and expansion in the presence of rapamycin greatly improved proliferation and suppression. We show that CD8+CD45RClow/- Tregs are equivalent to canonical CD4+CD25highCD127low/- Tregs for suppression of allogeneic immune responses in vitro. Altogether, our results open new perspectives to tolerogenic strategies in human solid organ transplantation and GVHD.
Project description:Soluble stimulation-2 (ST2) is increased during graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), while Tregs that express ST2 prevent GVHD through unknown mechanisms. Transplantation of Foxp3- T cells and Tregs that were collected and sorted from different Foxp3 reporter mice indicated that in mice that developed GVHD, ST2+ Tregs were thymus derived and predominantly localized to the intestine. ST2-/- Treg transplantation was associated with reduced total intestinal Treg frequency and activation. ST2-/- versus WT intestinal Treg transcriptomes showed decreased Treg functional markers and, reciprocally, increased Rorc expression. Rorc-/- T cells transplantation enhanced the frequency and function of intestinal ST2+ Tregs and reduced GVHD through decreased gut-infiltrating soluble ST2-producing type 1 and increased IL-4/IL-10-producing type 2 T cells. Cotransfer of ST2+ Tregs sorted from Rorc-/- mice with WT CD25-depleted T cells decreased GVHD severity and mortality, increased intestinal ST2+KLRG1+ Tregs, and decreased type 1 T cells after transplantation, indicating an intrinsic mechanism. Ex vivo IL-33-stimulated Tregs (TregIL-33) expressed higher amphiregulin and displayed better immunosuppression, and adoptive transfer prevented GVHD better than control Tregs or TregIL-33 cultured with IL-23/IL-17. Amphiregulin blockade by neutralizing antibody in vivo abolished the protective effect of TregIL-33. Our data show that inverse expression of ST2 and ROR?t in intestinal Tregs determines GVHD and that TregIL-33 has potential as a cellular therapy avenue for preventing GVHD.