Bendamustine with total body irradiation conditioning yields tolerant T-cells while preserving T-cell-dependent graft-versus-leukemia.
ABSTRACT: Graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) remains a significant impediment to allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) success, necessitating studies focused on alleviating GvHD, while preserving the graft-versus-leukemia (GvL) effect. Based on our previous studies showing bendamustine with total body irradiation (BEN-TBI) conditioning reduces GvHD compared to the current clinical standard of care cyclophosphamide (CY)-TBI in a murine MHC-mismatched bone marrow transplantation (BMT) model, this study aimed to evaluate the role and fate of donor T-cells following BEN-TBI conditioning. We demonstrate that BEN-TBI reduces GvHD compared to CY-TBI independently of T regulatory cells (Tregs). BEN-TBI conditioned mice have a smaller proportion and less activated donor T-cells, with lower CD47 expression, early post-transplant, but no sustained phenotypic differences in T-cells. In BEN-TBI conditioned mice, donor T-cells gain tolerance specific to host MHC antigens. Though these T-cells are tolerant to host antigens, we demonstrate that BEN-TBI preserves a T-cell-dependent GvL effect. These findings indicate that BEN-TBI conditioning reduces GvHD without compromising GvL, warranting its further investigation as a potentially safer and more efficacious clinical alternative to CY-TBI.
Project description:Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) remains a significant challenge in allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT). An underinvestigated strategy to reduce GVHD is the modification of the preparative conditioning regimen. In the present study, we aimed to evaluate GVHD associated with bendamustine (BEN) conditioning in conjunction with total body irradiation (TBI) as an alternative to the standard myeloablative regimen of cyclophosphamide (CY) and TBI. We demonstrate that BEN-TBI conditioning, although facilitating complete donor chimerism, results in significantly less GVHD compared with CY-TBI. In BEN-TBI-conditioned mice, suppressive CD11b+Gr-1high myeloid cells are increased in the blood, bone marrow, spleen, and intestines. When Gr-1high cells are depleted before transplantation, the beneficial effects of BEN-TBI are partially lost. Alternatively, administration of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor, which promotes CD11b+Gr-1+ myeloid cell expansion, is associated with a trend toward increased survival in BEN-TBI-conditioned mice. These findings indicate a potential role of myeloid-derived suppressor cells in the mechanism by which BEN allows engraftment with reduced GVHD. BEN-TBI conditioning may present a safer alternative to CY-TBI conditioning for allogeneic HCT.
Project description:Graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) remains the second leading cause of death in allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation recipients, highlighting the need for improved preventative strategies. Our laboratory has previously demonstrated in an experimental bone marrow transplantation (BMT) model that bendamustine combined with total body irradiation (BEN+TBI) is a safer alternative to cyclophosphamide with TBI (CY+TBI). The biological mechanisms of action of BEN have not been fully elucidated and likely involve multiple cell populations. Host dendritic cells (DCs) can prime naïve donor T-cells immediately following transplantation, making host DCs critical for the initiation phase of GvHD. We hypothesized that BEN+TBI conditioning favorably alters host DC composition to reduce GvHD. We demonstrate that host DCs treated with BEN+TBI induce less allogeneic T-cell proliferation than those conditioned with CY+TBI. We further show that BEN+TBI conditioning results in greater total numbers of all host DC subsets but with a more favorable composition compared to CY+TBI with significantly larger proportions of type 1 conventional DCs (cDC1), a highly regulatory DC subset capable of suppressing GvHD. Our studies using recipient Batf3 KO mice indicate that CD8?+ cDC1s are largely dispensable for the reduced GvHD following BEN+TBI conditioning. We found a higher frequency of host pre-cDC1s with BEN+TBI conditioning in both wild-type (WT) and Batf3 KO mice, which was inversely associated with GvHD. Additionally, we observed that BEN treatment results in greater expression of Flt3 receptor (CD135) on host DCs compared to CY, potentially contributing to the skewing of host DCs toward cDC1s. Further, BEN+TBI conditioning results in host cDCs with greater expression of PIR-B, an inhibitory receptor capable of preventing lethal GvHD. We conclude that BEN+TBI is a safer alternative to CY+TBI, resulting in a greater frequency of host pre-cDC1s and limiting GvHD.
Project description:Advances in haploidentical bone marrow transplantation (h-BMT) have drastically broadened the treatment options for patients requiring BMT. The possibility of significantly reducing the complications resulting from graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) with the administration of post-transplant cyclophosphamide (PT-CY) has substantially improved the efficacy and applicability of T cell-replete h-BMT. However, higher frequency of disease recurrence remains a major challenge in h-BMT with PT-CY. There is a critical need to identify novel strategies to prevent GvHD while sparing the graft-versus-leukaemia (GvL) effect in h-BMT. To this end, we evaluated the impact of bendamustine (BEN), given post-transplant, on GvHD and GvL using clinically relevant murine h-BMT models. We provide results indicating that post-transplant bendamustine (PT-BEN) alleviates GvHD, significantly improving survival, while preserving engraftment and GvL effects. We further document that PT-BEN can mitigate GvHD even in the absence of Treg. Our results also indicate that PT-BEN is less myelosuppressive than PT-CY, significantly increasing the number and proportion of CD11b(+) Gr-1(hi) cells, while decreasing lymphoid cells. In vitro we observed that BEN enhances the suppressive function of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) while impairing the proliferation of T- and B-cells. These results advocate for the consideration of PT-BEN as a new therapeutic platform for clinical implementation in h-BMT.
Project description:The growth factor Flt3 ligand (Flt3L) is central to dendritic cell (DC) homeostasis and development, controlling survival and expansion by binding to Flt3 receptor tyrosine kinase on the surface of DCs. In the context of hematopoietic cell transplantation, Flt3L has been found to suppress graft-versus-host disease (GvHD), specifically <i>via</i> host DCs. We previously reported that the pre-transplant conditioning regimen consisting of bendamustine (BEN) and total body irradiation (TBI) results in significantly reduced GvHD compared to cyclophosphamide (CY)+TBI. Pre-transplant BEN+TBI conditioning was also associated with greater Flt3 expression among host DCs and an accumulation of pre-cDC1s. Here, we demonstrate that exposure to BEN increases Flt3 expression on both murine bone marrow-derived DCs (BMDCs) and human monocyte-derived DCs (moDCs). BEN favors development of murine plasmacytoid DCs, pre-cDC1s, and cDC2s. While humans do not have an identifiable equivalent to murine pre-cDC1s, exposure to BEN resulted in decreased plasmacytoid DCs and increased cDC2s. BEN exposure and heightened Flt3 signaling are associated with a distinct regulatory phenotype, with increased PD-L1 expression and decreased ICOS-L expression. BMDCs exposed to BEN exhibit diminished pro-inflammatory cytokine response to LPS and induce robust proliferation of alloreactive T-cells. These proliferative alloreactive T-cells expressed greater levels of PD-1 and underwent increased programmed cell death as the concentration of BEN exposure increased. Alloreactive CD4<sup>+</sup> T-cell death may be attributable to pre-cDC1s and provides a potential mechanism by which BEN+TBI conditioning limits GvHD and yields T-cells tolerant to host antigen.
Project description:Host dendritic cells (DCs) play a critical role in initiating graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) and graft-versus-leukemia (GVL), and separation of GVL from GVHD remains a major challenge in the treatment of hematologic malignancies by allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT). Here, we show that preconditioning with anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody before conditioning with total body irradiation (TBI) prevents GVHD but retains GVL in a HCT model of major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-mismatched C57BL/6 donor to BALB/c host. Prevention of GVHD is associated with inhibition of donor T-cell expression of homing and chemokine receptors, and inhibition of GVHD target tissue expression of chemokines. Furthermore, inhibition of donor T-cell expression of gut homing alpha4beta7 and chemokine receptor (CCR)9 by anti-CD3 preconditioning results from a reduction of CD103(+) DCs in draining mesenteric lymph nodes (LNs), which is associated with down-regulation of DC expression of CCR7, a receptor required for tissue DC migration to draining LNs. These results indicate that anti-CD3 preconditioning reduces not only tissue release of chemokines but also prevents tissue DC migration to draining LNs and subsequently reduces the capacity of DCs of draining LNs to imprint donor T-cell tissue tropism. Therefore, modulation of host DCs by anti-CD3 preconditioning before HCT represents a new approach for separating GVL from GVHD.
Project description:More than half of patients undergoing hematopoietic cell transplantation at our institution are ethnic or racial minorities, making the search for matched unrelated donors more challenging. Since the introduction of haploidentical bone marrow transplant (haplo-BMT) into our pediatric BMT program in 2015, 69.2% of recipients have been minorities. Herein, we describe our experience with the first 13 pediatric and young adult patients with hematologic malignancies who have undergone T cell-replete haplo-BMT after myeloablative conditioning (MAC) at our institution. We have previously documented that in experimental haplo-BMT, post-transplant bendamustine (PT-BEN) is at least as effective as post-transplant cyclophosphamide (PT-CY) against graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) and elicits superior graft-versus-leukemia (GVL) effects. We report on, for the first time in humans, 4 patients treated with PT-CY and PT-BEN after haplo-BMT as part of our ongoing institutional phase I/II study (NCT02996773). The remaining 9 patients reviewed in this report received PT-CY. Our findings indicate that MAC haplo-BMT is well tolerated by children and young adults with advanced hematologic malignancies with no observed nonrelapse mortality or grades III to IV GVHD. All patients who underwent haplo-BMT remain alive and disease-free with a median follow-up of 15.6 months (range, 1.5 to 31.2). Preliminary findings from our ongoing clinical trial demonstrate that partial substitution of PT-BEN for PT-CY is feasible and safe after haplo-BMT as an immune modulatory strategy to alleviate GVHD and potentially more effectively preserve GVL.
Project description:Allogeneic blood or marrow transplantation (BMT) candidates may lack HLA-matched, related haploidentical, and unrelated umbilical cord options. Barriers to partially HLA-mismatched, unrelated donor (mMUD) BMT include excess graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), graft failure, and death. We prospectively studied nonmyeloablative (NMA) mMUD BMT with high-dose posttransplantation cyclophosphamide (PTCy) for patients with hematologic malignancies. Three transplants were performed with busulfan/fludarabine conditioning, with subsequent change to fludarabine/Cy/total body irradiation (flu/Cy/TBI). Twenty mMUD transplants are reported using flu/Cy/TBI, T-cell replete bone marrow grafts, and PTCy, mycophenolate mofetil, and sirolimus or tacrolimus (1 patient) for GVHD prophylaxis. The median patient age was 56. Ofthese unrelated grafts, 45% had ≥2 mismatched HLA loci, 25% had ≥3 mismatched loci, and 50% had HLA-C mismatches. No graft failure or grades 3-4 acute GVHD occurred. The median times to neutrophil recovery (≥500/μL) and platelet recovery (≥20 000/μL) were 19 days and 31 days, respectively. Full-donor chimerism was achieved in 95% of evaluable patients by day 60. The 180-day probability of grades 2-4 acute GVHD (all grade 2) was 25%, and the 1-year probability of any chronic GVHD was 16% (none severe). The 2-year nonrelapse mortality probability was 6%. With 4-year median follow-up, the 1-year progression-free and overall survival probabilities were 65% and 75%, respectively. NMA, T-cell replete mMUD BMT is thus a potentially viable option for patients without other suitable donors. This trial was registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov as #NCT01203722.
Project description:Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation is a potentially curative procedure for many malignant diseases. Donor T cells prevent disease recurrence <i>via</i> graft-versus-leukemia (GVL) effect. Donor T cells also contribute to graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), a debilitating and potentially fatal complication. Novel treatment strategies are needed which allow preservation of GVL effects without causing GVHD. Using murine models, we show that targeting IL-2-inducible T cell kinase (ITK) in donor T cells reduces GVHD while preserving GVL effects. Both CD8<sup>+</sup> and CD4<sup>+</sup> donor T cells from <i>Itk<sup>-/-</sup></i> mice produce less inflammatory cytokines and show decrease migration to GVHD target organs such as the liver and small intestine, while maintaining GVL efficacy against primary B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL). <i>Itk<sup>-/-</sup></i> T cells exhibit reduced expression of IRF4 and decreased JAK/STAT signaling activity but upregulating expression of Eomesodermin (Eomes) and preserve cytotoxicity, necessary for GVL effect. Transcriptome analysis indicates that ITK signaling controls chemokine receptor expression during alloactivation, which in turn affects the ability of donor T cells to migrate to GVHD target organs. Our data suggest that inhibiting ITK could be a therapeutic strategy to reduce GVHD while preserving the beneficial GVL effects following allo-HSCT treatment.
Project description:Allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT) is curative therapy for the treatment of patients with severe aplastic anemia (SAA). However, several conditioning regimens can be used for BMT. We evaluated transplant conditioning regimens for BMT in SAA after HLA-matched sibling and unrelated donor BMT. For recipients of HLA-matched sibling donor transplantation (n = 955), fludarabine (Flu)/cyclophosphamide (Cy)/antithymocyte globulin (ATG) or Cy/ATG led to the best survival. The 5-year probabilities of survival with Flu/Cy/ATG, Cy/ATG, Cy ± Flu, and busulfan/Cy were 91%, 91%, 80%, and 84%, respectively (P = .001). For recipients of 8/8 and 7/8 HLA allele-matched unrelated donor transplantation (n = 409), there were no differences in survival between regimens. The 5-year probabilities of survival with Cy/ATG/total body irradiation 200 cGy, Flu/Cy/ATG/total body irradiation 200 cGy, Flu/Cy/ATG, and Cy/ATG were 77%, 80%, 75%, and 72%, respectively (P = .61). Rabbit-derived ATG compared with equine-derived ATG was associated with a lower risk of grade II to IV acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) (hazard ratio [HR], 0.39; P < .001) but not chronic GVHD. Independent of conditioning regimen, survival was lower in patients aged >30 years after HLA-matched sibling (HR, 2.74; P < .001) or unrelated donor (HR, 1.98; P = .001) transplantation. These data support Flu/Cy/ATG and Cy/ATG as optimal regimens for HLA-matched sibling BMT. Although survival after an unrelated donor BMT did not differ between regimens, use of rabbit-derived ATG may be preferred because of lower risks of acute GVHD.
Project description:Patients with acute leukemia who are unable to achieve complete remission prior to allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (SCT) have dismal outcomes, with relapse rates well in excess of 60%. Haplo-identical SCT (haplo-SCT) may allow enhanced graft-versus-leukemia (GVL) effects by virtue of HLA class I/II donor-host disparities, but it typically requires intensive immunosuppression with posttransplant cyclophosphamide (PT-Cy) to prevent lethal graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). Here, we demonstrate in preclinical models that glucocorticoid administration from days -1 to +5 inhibits alloantigen presentation by professional recipient antigen presenting cells in the gastrointestinal tract and prevents donor T cell priming and subsequent expansion therein. In contrast, direct glucocorticoid signaling of donor T cells promotes chemokine and integrin signatures permissive of preferential circulation and migration into the BM, promoting donor T cell residency. This results in significant reductions in GVHD while promoting potent GVL effects; relapse in recipients receiving glucocorticoids, vehicle, or PT-Cy was 12%, 56%, and 100%, respectively. Intriguingly, patients with acute myeloid leukemia not in remission who received unmanipulated haplo-SCT and peritransplant glucocorticoids also had an unexpectedly low relapse rate at 1 year (32%; 95% CI, 18%-47%) with high overall survival at 3 years (58%; 95% CI, 38%-74%). These data highlight a potentially simple and effective approach to prevent relapse in patients with otherwise incurable leukemia that could be studied in prospective randomized trials.