With age peripheral naïve CD4 T cells become both longer-lived and functionally impaired and they express reduced levels of Bim, a pro-apoptotic Bcl-family member. In this study, we show that reduced Bim expression by naïve CD4 T cells intrinsically mediates their longer lifespan in the periphery. Moreover, using mixed bone marrow chimeras reconstituted with Bim+/+ and Bim+/− bone marrow cells, Bim+/− naïve CD4 T cells exhibit accelerated development of age-associated dysfunctions including reduced proliferation and IL-2 production and defective helper function for B cells, without any increase in their turnover. However, newly generated Bim+/− naïve CD4 T cells in middle aged mice are not defective, indicating an additional requirement for their persistence in the periphery. These age-associated immune defects develop independently of the “aged” host environment and without extensive division, distinguishing them from classic “senescence”. We suggest that the reduction of Bim levels with age in naïve CD4 T cell is the initiating step that leads to increased cellular lifespan and development of age-associated functional defects.
The pro-apoptotic BH3-only protein Bim is established to be an important mediator of signaling pathways that induce cell death. Multi-site phosphorylation of Bim by several members of the MAP kinase group is implicated as a regulatory mechanism that controls the apoptotic activity of Bim. To test the role of Bim phosphorylation in vivo, we constructed mice with a series of mutant alleles that express phosphorylation-defective Bim proteins. We show that mutation of the phosphorylation site Thr-112 causes decreased binding of Bim to the anti-apoptotic protein Bcl2 and can increase cell survival. In contrast, mutation of the phosphorylation sites Ser-55, Ser-65, and Ser-73 can cause increased apoptosis because of reduced proteasomal degradation of Bim. Together, these data indicate that phosphorylation can regulate Bim by multiple mechanisms and that the phosphorylation of Bim on different sites can contribute to the sensitivity of cellular apoptotic responses.
We examined the role of the antiapoptotic molecule Bcl-2 in combating the proapoptotic molecule Bim in control of naive and memory T cell homeostasis using Bcl-2−/− mice that were additionally deficient in one or both alleles of Bim. Naive T cells were significantly decreased in Bim+/−Bcl-2−/− mice, but were largely restored in Bim−/−Bcl-2−/− mice. Similarly, a synthetic Bcl-2 inhibitor killed wild-type, but not Bim−/−, T cells. Further, T cells from Bim+/−Bcl-2−/− mice died rapidly ex vivo and were refractory to cytokine-driven survival in vitro. In vivo, naive CD8+ T cells required Bcl-2 to combat Bim to maintain peripheral survival, whereas naive CD4+ T cells did not. In contrast, Bim+/−Bcl-2−/− mice generated relatively normal numbers of memory T cells after lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus infection. Accumulation of memory T cells in Bim+/−Bcl-2−/− mice was likely caused by their increased proliferative renewal because of the lymphopenic environment of the mice. Collectively, these data demonstrate a critical role for a balance between Bim and Bcl-2 in controlling homeostasis of naive and memory T cells.
Bim is a proapoptotic BH3-only Bcl-2 family member. In response to death stimuli, Bim dissociates from the dynein light chain 1 (DYNLL1/LC8), where it is inactive, and can then initiate Bax/Bak-mediated mitochondria-dependent apoptosis. We found that Bim depletion increases autophagosome synthesis in cells and in vivo, and this effect is inhibited by overexpression of cell death-deficient Bim. Bim inhibits autophagy by interacting with Beclin 1, an autophagy regulator, and this interaction is facilitated by LC8. Bim bridges the Beclin 1-LC8 interaction and thereby inhibits autophagy by mislocalizing Beclin 1 to the dynein motor complex. Starvation, an autophagic stimulus, induces Bim phosphorylation, which abrogates LC8 binding to Bim, leading to dissociation of Bim and Beclin 1. Our data suggest that Bim switches locations between apoptosis-inactive/autophagy-inhibitory and apoptosis-active/autophagy-permissive sites.
► Bim negatively regulates autophagy in cell culture and in vivo ► Bim inhibits autophagosome formation by interacting with Beclin 1 ► Bim inhibits autophagy by mislocalizing Beclin 1 from the ER to microtubules ► Starvation induces autophagy and dissociates the Bim-Beclin1 interaction
The proapoptotic members of the Bcl-2 family can be subdivided into members that contain several Bcl-2 homology (BH) domains and those that contain only the BH3 domain. Although it is known that BH3-only proteins and the multi-BH domain proteins, Bak and Bax, are essential for programmed cell death, the overlapping role of these two subgroups has not been examined in vivo. To investigate this, we generated Bak/Bim and Bax/Bim double deficient mice. We found that although Bax−/−Bim−/−, but not Bak−/−Bim−/−, mice display webbed hind and front paws and malocclusion of the incisors, both groups of mice present with dysregulated hematopoiesis. Combined loss of Bak and Bim or Bax and Bim causes defects in myeloid and B-lymphoid development that are more severe than those found in the single knock-out mice. Bak−/−Bim−/− mice have a complement of thymocytes that resembles those in control mice, whereas Bax−/−Bim−/− mice are more similar to Bim−/− mice. However, thymocytes isolated from Bak−/−Bim−/− or Bax−/−Bim−/− mice are markedly more resistant to apoptotic stimuli mediated by the intrinsic pathway as compared with thymocytes from single-knockout mice. These data suggest an essential overlapping role for Bak or Bax and Bim in the intrinsic apoptotic pathway.
The relationship between regulatory T cells (Tregs) and acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) in clinical allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT) recipients is not well established. We conducted a prospective analysis of peripheral blood Tregs as determined by the frequency of CD4+CD25hiFOXP3+ lymphocytes in 215 BMT patients. Autologous BMT patients (N=90) and allogeneic BMT patients without GVHD (N=65) had similar Treg frequencies, whereas allogeneic patients with GVHD (N=60) had Treg frequencies that were 40% less than those without GVHD. Treg frequencies decreased linearly with increasing grades of GVHD at onset and correlated with eventual maximum grade of GVHD (p<0.001). In addition, frequency of Tregs at onset of GVHD predicted the response to GVHD treatment (p=0.003). Patients with Treg frequencies less than the median had higher non-relapse mortality than patients with Tregs greater than the median, but experienced equivalent relapse mortality, resulting in an inferior survival at two years (38% vs. 63%, p=0.03). Treg frequency may therefore have important prognostic value as a biomarker of acute GVHD.
Allogeneic BMT; Acute graft-versus-host-disease; Regulatory T cells; Biomarker
When used as therapy for hematopoietic malignancies, allogeneic BM transplantation (BMT) relies on the graft-versus-leukemia (GVL) effect to eradicate residual tumor cells through immunologic mechanisms. However, graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), which is initiated by alloreactive donor T cells that recognize mismatched major and/or minor histocompatibility antigens and cause severe damage to hematopoietic and epithelial tissues, is a potentially lethal complication of allogeneic BMT. To enhance the therapeutic potential of BMT, we sought to find therapeutic targets that could inhibit GVHD while preserving GVL and immune responses to infectious agents. We show here that T cell responses triggered in mice by either Listeria monocytogenes or administration of antigen and adjuvant were relatively well preserved in the absence of PKC isoform θ (PKCθ), a key regulator of TCR signaling. In contrast, PKCθ was required for alloreactivity and GVHD induction. Furthermore, absence of PKCθ raised the threshold for T cell activation, which selectively affected alloresponses. Most importantly, PKCθ-deficient T cells retained the ability to respond to virus infection and to induce GVL effect after BMT. These findings suggest PKCθ is a potentially unique therapeutic target required for GVHD induction but not for GVL or protective responses to infectious agents.
Bim, the B cell lymphoma 2–interacting (Bcl2-interacting) mediator, maintains immunological tolerance by deleting autoreactive lymphocytes through apoptosis. We report here that Bim is also, paradoxically, required for the activation of autoreactive T cells. Deletion of Bim in hematopoietic cells rendered mice resistant to autoimmune encephalomyelitis and diabetes, and Bim-deficient T cells had diminished cytokine production. Upon T cell receptor activation, Bim-deficient T cells exhibited severe defects in both calcium release and dephosphorylation of nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT) but maintained normal levels of activation of NF-κB and MAPKs. The defective calcium signaling in Bim-deficient T cells was associated with a significant increase in the formation of an inhibitory complex containing Bcl2 and the inositol triphosphate receptor (IP3R). Thus, in addition to mediating the death of autoreactive T cells, Bim also controlled T cell activation through the IP3R/calcium/NFAT pathway. These results indicate that a single protein is used to control both the activation and apoptosis of autoreactive T cells and may explain why Bim-deficient mice do not reject their own organs despite lacking thymic negative selection.
Older bone marrow transplantation (BMT) recipients are at heightened risk for acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) after allogeneic BMT, but the causes of this association are poorly understood. Using well-characterized murine BMT models we have explored the mechanisms of increased GVHD in older mice. GVHD mortality, morbidity, and pathologic and biochemical indices were all worse in old recipients. Donor T cell responses were significantly increased in old recipients both in vivo and in vitro when stimulated by antigen-presenting cells (APCs) from old mice, which also secreted more TNF-α and IL-12 after LPS stimulation. In a B6 → B6D2F1 model, CD4+ donor T cells but not CD8+ T cells mediated more severe GVHD in old mice. We confirmed the role of aged APCs in GVHD using B6D2F1 BM chimeras created with either old or young BM. Four months after chimera creation, allogeneic BMT from B6 donors caused significantly worse GVHD in old BM chimeras. APCs from these mice also stimulated greater responses from allogeneic cells in vitro. These data demonstrate a hitherto unsuspected mechanism of amplified donor T cell responses by aged allogeneic host APCs that increases acute GVHD in aged recipients in this BMT model.
Acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) and leukemic relapse remain the two major obstacles to successful outcomes after allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT). Recent studies have demonstrated that the loss of gastrointestinal tract integrity, and specifically the translocation of LPS into the systemic circulation, is critical to the induction of cytokine dysregulation that contributes to GVHD. Using a mouse BMT model, we studied the effects of direct LPS antagonism on GVHD severity and graft-versus-leukemia (GVL) activity. Administration of B975, a synthetic lipid-A analogue from day 0 to day +6, reduced serum TNF-α levels, decreased intestinal histopathology, and resulted in significantly improved survival and a reduction in clinical GVHD, compared with control-treated animals. Importantly, B975 had no effect on donor T cell responses to host antigens in vivo or in vitro. When mice received lethal doses of P815 tumor cells at the time of BMT, administration of B975 did not impair GVL activity and resulted in significantly improved leukemia-free survival. These findings reveal a critical role for LPS in the early inflammatory events contributing to GVHD and suggest that a new class of pharmacologic agents, LPS antagonists, may help to prevent GVHD while preserving T cell responses to host antigens and GVL activity.
CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells (Treg’s) play a pivotal role in preventing organ-specific autoimmune diseases and in inducing tolerance to allogeneic organ transplants. We and others recently demonstrated that high numbers of Treg’s can also modulate graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) if administered in conjunction with allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in mice. In a clinical setting, it would be impossible to obtain enough freshly purified Treg’s from a single donor to have a therapeutic effect. Thus, we performed regulatory T cell expansion ex vivo by stimulation with allogeneic APCs, which has the additional effect of producing alloantigen-specific regulatory T cells. Here we show that regulatory T cells specific for recipient-type alloantigens control GVHD while favoring immune reconstitution. Irrelevant regulatory T cells only mediate a partial protection from GVHD. Preferential survival of specific regulatory T cells, but not of irrelevant regulatory T cells, was observed in grafted animals. Additionally, the use of specific regulatory T cells was compatible with some form of graft-versus-tumor activity. These data suggest that recipient-type specific Treg’s could be preferentially used in the control of GVHD in future clinical trials.
Interleukin-7 (IL-7) is critical for T-cell development and peripheral T-cell homeostasis. The survival of pro-T cells and mature T cells requires IL-7. The survival function of IL-7 is accomplished partly through induction of the antiapoptotic protein Bcl-2 and inhibition of proapoptotic proteins Bax and Bad. We show here that the proapoptotic protein Bim, a BH3-only protein belonging to the Bcl-2 family, also plays a role in peripheral T-cell survival. Deletion of Bim partially protected an IL-7-dependent T-cell line and peripheral T cells, especially cells with an effector memory phenotype, from IL-7 deprivation. However, T-cell development in the thymus was not restored in IL-7−/− Rag2−/− mice reconstituted with Bim−/− bone marrow. IL-7 withdrawal altered neither the intracellular location of Bim, which was constitutively mitochondrial, nor its association with Bcl-2; however, a reduction in its association with the prosurvival protein Mcl-1 was observed. IL-7 withdrawal did not increase Bim mRNA or protein expression but did induce changes in the isoelectric point of BimEL and its reactivity with an antiphosphoserine antibody. Our findings suggest that the maintenance of peripheral T cells by IL-7 occurs partly through inhibition of Bim activity at the posttranslational level.
The role of cell-mediated cytotoxicity in the complex pathophysiology of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) has remained poorly defined for several decades. We transplanted T cells from Fas-ligand (FasL)- defective and perforin-deficient mutant donor mice into lethally irradiated MHC-matched allogeneic recipient mice to characterize the role of cell-mediated cytotoxicity in GVHD. Although recipients of allogeneic FasL-defective donor T cells underwent severe GVHD- associated cachexia, they exhibited only minimal signs of hepatic and cutaneous GVHD pathology. Recipients of perforin-deficient allogeneic donor T cells developed signs of acute GVHD, but the time of onset was significantly delayed. These findings demonstrate that Fas-mediated anti-recipient cytotoxicity may be critical for the development of hepatic and cutaneous GVHD, but is not required for GVHD-associated cachexia. In addition, perforin-mediated anti-recipient cytotoxicity appears to play an important role in the kinetics of GVHD pathophysiology, but is not required for GVHD-associated tissue damage.
Allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (allo-BMT) is a potentially curative therapy for a variety of hematologic diseases, but benefits, including graft-versus-tumor (GVT) activity are limited by graft-versus-host-disease (GVHD). Carcinoembryonic antigen related cell adhesion molecule 1 (Ceacam1) is a transmembrane glycoprotein found on epithelium, T cells, and many tumors. It regulates a variety of physiologic and pathological processes such as tumor biology, leukocyte activation, and energy homeostasis. Previous studies suggest that Ceacam1 negatively regulates inflammation in inflammatory bowel disease models.
We studied Ceacam1 as a regulator of GVHD and GVT after allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (allo-BMT) in mouse models. In vivo, Ceacam1−/− T cells caused increased GVHD mortality and GVHD of the colon, and greater numbers of donor T cells were positive for activation markers (CD25hi, CD62Llo). Additionally, Ceacam1−/− CD8 T cells had greater expression of the gut-trafficking integrin α4β7, though both CD4 and CD8 T cells were found increased numbers in the gut post-transplant. Ceacam1−/− recipients also experienced increased GVHD mortality and GVHD of the colon, and alloreactive T cells displayed increased activation. Additionally, Ceacam1−/− mice had increased mortality and decreased numbers of regenerating small intestinal crypts upon radiation exposure. Conversely, Ceacam1-overexpressing T cells caused attenuated target-organ and systemic GVHD, which correlated with decreased donor T cell numbers in target tissues, and mortality. Finally, graft-versus-tumor survival in a Ceacam1+ lymphoma model was improved in animals receiving Ceacam1−/− vs. control T cells.
We conclude that Ceacam1 regulates T cell activation, GVHD target organ damage, and numbers of donor T cells in lymphoid organs and GVHD target tissues. In recipients of allo-BMT, Ceacam1 may also regulate tissue radiosensitivity. Because of its expression on both the donor graft and host tissues, this suggests that targeting Ceacam1 may represent a potent strategy for the regulation of GVHD and GVT after allogeneic transplantation.
Acute graft-versus-host disease (aGVHD) is still a major obstacle in clinical allogeneic bone marrow (BM) transplantation. CD4+CD25+ regulatory T (Treg) cells have recently been shown to suppress proliferative responses of CD4+CD25− T cells to alloantigenic stimulation in vitro and are required for ex vivo tolerization of donor T cells, which results in their reduced potential to induce aGVHD. Here we show that CD4+CD25+ T cells isolated from the spleen or BM of donor C57BL/6 (H-2b) mice that have not been tolerized are still potent inhibitors of the alloresponse in vitro and of lethal aGVHD induced by C57BL/6 CD4+CD25− T cells in irradiated BALB/c (H-2d) hosts in vivo. The addition of the CD4+CD25+ Treg cells at a 1:1 ratio with responder/inducer CD4+CD25− T cells resulted in a >90% inhibition of the mixed leukocyte reaction and marked protection from lethal GVHD. This protective effect depended in part on the ability of the transferred CD4+CD25+ T cells to secrete interleukin 10 and occurred if the Treg cells were of donor, but not host, origin. Our results demonstrate that the balance of donor-type CD4+CD25+ Treg and conventional CD4+CD25− T cells can determine the outcome of aGVHD.
immune regulation; T lymphocytes; IL-10; mixed leukocyte reaction; alloimmunity
Graft versus host disease is the major complication of allogeneic bone marrow transplantation and limits the therapeutic efficacy of this modality. While the role of natural regulatory T cells (nTregs) in attenuating GVHD has been extensively examined, the ability of induced regulatory T cells (iTregs) to mitigate GVHD is unknown. The purpose of this study was to examine the ability of in vitro and in vivo-induced Tregs to abrogate GVHD.
We examined the ability of in vitro-differentiated and in vivo-induced Tregs to reduce the severity of GVHD in a clinically relevant mouse model of BMT. The effect of blockade of interleukin 6 signaling on the efficacy of these Treg populations was also studied.
In vitro-differentiated iTregs fail to protect mice from lethal GVHD even when administered at high Treg: effector T cell ratios. Lack of GVHD protection was associated with loss of Foxp3 expression and in vivo reversion of these cells to a proinflammatory phenotype characterized by secretion of IFN-γ. Phenotypic reversion could not be abrogated by blockade of IL-6 signaling or by in vitro exposure of iTregs to all-trans-retinoic acid. In contrast, the in vivo induction of iTregs was significantly augmented by IL-6 blockade and this resulted in reduced GVHD.
Instability of Foxp3 expression limits the utility of adoptively transferred iTregs as a source of cellular therapy for the abrogation of GVHD. Blockade of IL-6 signaling augments the ability of in vivo-induced Tregs to prevent GVHD, but has no effect on in vitro-differentiated iTregs.
regulatory T cells; GVHD; IL-6; iTregs
The graft-versus-tumor (GVT) effect is a potent form of immunotherapy against many hematological malignancies and some solid tumors. The beneficial GVT effect after allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT) is tightly linked to its most significant complication, graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). The role of interleukin-6 (IL-6) after allogeneic BMT is not well-understood. This study used a series of complementary knock-out and antibody blockade strategies to analyze the impact of IL-6 in multiple clinically relevant murine models of GVHD and GVT.
We examined the effect of the source of IL-6 by analyzing the role IL-6 deficiency in donor T cells, donor bone marrow or in host tissues. We confirmed and extended the relevance of IL-6 deficiency on GVHD and GVT by treating BMT recipients with anti-mouse IL-6 receptor (IL-6R), MR16-1.
Deficiency of IL-6 in donor T cells led to prolongation of survival. Total inhibition of IL-6 with MR16-1 caused an even greater reduction in GVHD-induced mortality. The reduction in GVHD was independent of the direct effects on T effector cell expansion or donor regulatory T cells. GVT responses were preserved after treatment with MR16-1.
MR16-1 treatment reduced GVHD and preserved sufficient GVT. Tocilizumab, a humanized anti-IL-6R mAb, is approved in several countries including the United States and European Union for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases. Blockade of IL-6 with anti-IL-6R mAb therapy may be testable in clinical trials as an adjunct to prevent GVHD in BMT patients without a significant loss of GVT.
cytokines; IL-6; BMT; GVHD; GVT
Thymic graft-versus-host disease (tGVHD) can contribute to profound T cell deficiency and repertoire restriction after allogeneic BM transplantation (allo-BMT). However, the cellular mechanisms of tGVHD and interactions between donor alloreactive T cells and thymic tissues remain poorly defined. Using clinically relevant murine allo-BMT models, we show here that even minimal numbers of donor alloreactive T cells, which caused mild nonlethal systemic graft-versus-host disease, were sufficient to damage the thymus, delay T lineage reconstitution, and compromise donor peripheral T cell function. Furthermore, to mediate tGVHD, donor alloreactive T cells required trafficking molecules, including CCR9, L selectin, P selectin glycoprotein ligand-1, the integrin subunits αE and β7, CCR2, and CXCR3, and costimulatory/inhibitory molecules, including Ox40 and carcinoembryonic antigen-associated cell adhesion molecule 1. We found that radiation in BMT conditioning regimens upregulated expression of the death receptors Fas and death receptor 5 (DR5) on thymic stromal cells (especially epithelium), while decreasing expression of the antiapoptotic regulator cellular caspase-8–like inhibitory protein. Donor alloreactive T cells used the cognate proteins FasL and TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) (but not TNF or perforin) to mediate tGVHD, thereby damaging thymic stromal cells, cytoarchitecture, and function. Strategies that interfere with Fas/FasL and TRAIL/DR5 interactions may therefore represent a means to attenuate tGVHD and improve T cell reconstitution in allo-BMT recipients.
Sema4D (CD100), a member of the neuro-semaphorin family of proteins, has recently been shown to play a role in modulating certain immune responses. We tested the requirement of Sema4D expression on T cells in the induction of T cell allo-immune responses. Sema4D−/− Tcells showed reduced expansion in vitro upon stimulation with allogeneic antigen presenting cells (APCs) when compared to wild type (wt) Tcells. Similar in vitroresults were observed using anti-Sema4D mAbs. Further studies demonstrated that the reduced proliferation was not due to intrinsic T cell defects and that the cytotoxic functions were preserved. After allogeneic bone marrow transplant (BMT), recipients of Sema4D−/− Tcells showed reduced mortality and graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) target organ damage. Allogeneic dendritic cells (DCs) co-cultured with Sema4D−/− responder T cells secreted less TNFα and IL-12p70 compared to wt Tcells. Similar reduction of DC function was observed with anti-Sema4D mAbs. Given the preservation of CTL function we evaluated graft-versus-leukemia (GVL) responses. When BALB/c recipient mice were challenged with the P815 murine mastocytoma cell line (H2d) the recipients of allogeneic Sema4D−/− B6 T cells showed a significant improvement in tumor free survival when compared to syngeneic recipients thus demonstrating preservation of GVL, albeit of a lesser magnitude than allogeneic wt T cells. In summary, Sema4D plays a significant role in mediating in vitro and in vivo allogeneic responses by modulating T cell - APC interactions.
CD100; T cells; cytokines; GVHD; BMT
Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is used effectively to treat a number of hematological malignancies. Its beneficial effects rely on donor-derived T cell–targeted leukemic cells, the so-called graft-versus-leukemia (GVL) effect. Induction of GVL is usually associated with concomitant development of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), a major complication of allogeneic HSCT. The T cells that mediate GVL and GVHD are activated by alloantigen presented on host antigen-presenting cells of hematopoietic origin, and it is not well understood how alloantigen expression on non-hematopoietic cells affects GVL activity. Here we show, in mouse models of MHC-matched, minor histocompatibility antigen–mismatched bone marrow transplantation, that alloantigen expression on host epithelium drives donor T cells into apoptosis and dysfunction during GVHD, resulting in a loss of GVL activity. During GVHD, programmed death–1 (PD-1) and PD ligand–1 (PD-L1), molecules implicated in inducing T cell exhaustion, were upregulated on activated T cells and the target tissue, respectively, suggesting that the T cell defects driven by host epithelial alloantigen expression might be mediated by the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway. Consistent with this, blockade of PD-1/PD-L1 interactions partially restored T cell effector functions and improved GVL. These results elucidate a previously unrecognized significance of alloantigen expression on non-hematopoietic cells in GVL and suggest that separation of GVL from GVHD for more effective HSCT may be possible in human patients.
Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), in which immunocompetent donor cells attack the host, remains a major cause of morbidity after allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT). To understand the role of cytokines in the pathobiology of GVHD, we used cytokine knockout (KO) mice as a source of donor T cells. Two different MHC-disparate strain combinations were examined: BALB/c (H2(d)) donors into lethally irradiated C57BL/6 (H2(b)) recipients or C57BL/6 (H2(b)) donors into B10.BR (H2(k)) recipients. Donor cells were from mice in which either the interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) or the IL-4 gene was selectively disrupted to understand the role of these cytokines in acute GVHD. In both strain combinations the same pattern was noted with regard to GVHD onset and morbidity. All mice exhibited the classic signs of acute GVHD: weight loss with skin, gut, and liver pathology resulting in morbidity and mortality. Surprisingly, donor cells obtained from mice lacking IFN-gamma gave rise to accelerated morbidity from GVHD when compared with cells from wild-type control donors. Similar results were obtained using normal donors when neutralizing antibodies to IFN-gamma were administered immediately after the BMT. These results suggest that IFN-gamma plays a role in protection from acute GVHD. In marked contrast, cells obtained from IL-4 KO mice resulted in protection from GVHD compared with control donors. Splenocytes from IFN KO mice stimulated with a mitogen proliferated to a significantly greater extent and produced more IL-2 compared with splenocytes obtained from IL-4 KO or control mice. Additionally, there was increased IL-2 production in the spleens of mice undergoing GVHD using IFN-gamma KO donors. These results therefore indicate, with regard to the TH1/ TH2 cytokine paradigm, the absence of a TH1-type cytokine can be deleterious in acute GVHD, whereas absence of a TH2 cytokine can be protective.
Donor T cell responses to host alloantigen are known predictors for graft-versus-host disease (GVHD); however, the effect of donor responsiveness to an inflammatory stimulus such as lipopolysaccharide (LPS) on GVHD severity has not been investigated. To examine this, we used mouse strains that differ in their sensitivity to LPS as donors in an experimental bone marrow transplant (BMT) system. Lethally irradiated (C3FeB6)F1 hosts received BMT from either LPS-sensitive (LPS-s) C3Heb/Fej, or LPS-resistant (LPS-r) C3H/ Hej donors. Mice receiving LPS-r BMT developed significantly less GVHD as measured by mortality and clinical score compared with recipients of LPS-s BMT, a finding that was associated with significant decreases in intestinal histopathology and serum LPS and TNF-alpha levels. When donor T cell responses to host antigens were measured, no differences in proliferation, serum IFN-gamma levels, splenic T cell expansion, or CTL activity were observed after LPS-r or LPS-s BMT. Systemic neutralization of TNF-alpha from day -2 to +6 resulted in decreased intestinal pathology, and serum LPS levels and increased survival after BMT compared with control mice receiving Ig. We conclude that donor resistance to endotoxin reduces the development of acute GVHD by attenuating early intestinal damage mediated by TNFalpha. These data suggest that the responsiveness of donor accessory cells to LPS may be an important risk factor for acute GVHD severity independent of T cell responses to host antigens.
Like Bcl-2, Mcl-1 is an important survival factor for many cancers, its expression contributing to chemoresistance and disease relapse. However, unlike other prosurvival Bcl-2–like proteins, Mcl-1 stability is acutely regulated. For example, the Bcl-2 homology 3 (BH3)–only protein Noxa, which preferentially binds to Mcl-1, also targets it for proteasomal degradation. In this paper, we describe the discovery and characterization of a novel BH3-like ligand derived from Bim, BimS2A, which is highly selective for Mcl-1. Unlike Noxa, BimS2A is unable to trigger Mcl-1 degradation, yet, like Noxa, BimS2A promotes cell killing only when Bcl-xL is absent or neutralized. Furthermore, killing by endogenous Bim is not associated with Mcl-1 degradation. Thus, functional inactivation of Mcl-1 does not always require its elimination. Rather, it can be efficiently antagonized by a BH3-like ligand tightly engaging its binding groove, which is confirmed here with a structural study. Our data have important implications for the discovery of compounds that might kill cells whose survival depends on Mcl-1.
The occurrence of acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) and tumor relapse represent the two major obstacles impeding the efficacy of allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT) in cancer. We have previously shown that the synthetic triterpenoid CDDO can inhibit murine early acute GVHD but anti-tumor effects were not assessed. In the current study, we found that a new derivative of CDDO, CDDO-Me, had an increased ability to inhibit allogeneic T cell responses and induce cell death of alloreactive T cells in vitro. Administration of CDDO-Me to mice following allogeneic BMT resulted in significant and increased protection from acute lethal GVHD compared to CDDO. This correlated with reduced TNF-α production, reduced donor T cell proliferation and decreased adhesion molecule (α4β7 integrin) expression on the donor T cells. CDDO-Me was also superior to CDDO in inhibiting leukemia growth in vitro. When CDDO-Me was administered following an allogeneic BMT to leukemia-bearing mice, significant increases in survival were observed. These findings suggest that CDDO-Me is superior to CDDO in delaying acute GVHD while preserving or possibly even augmenting GVT effects.
During development, the stochastic process assembling the genes encoding antigen receptors invariably generates B and T lymphocytes that can recognize self-antigens. Several mechanisms have evolved to prevent the activation of these cells and the concomitant development of autoimmune disease. One such mechanism is the induction of apoptosis in developing or mature B cells by engagement of the B cell antigen receptor (BCR) in the absence of T cell help. Here we report that B lymphocytes lacking the pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 family member Bim are refractory to apoptosis induced by BCR ligation in vitro. The loss of Bim also inhibited deletion of autoreactive B cells in vivo in two transgenic systems of B cell tolerance. Bim loss prevented deletion of autoreactive B cells induced by soluble self-antigen and promoted accumulation of self-reactive B cells developing in the presence of membrane-bound self-antigen, although their numbers were considerably lower compared with antigen-free mice. Mechanistically, we determined that BCR ligation promoted interaction of Bim with Bcl-2, inhibiting its survival function. These findings demonstrate that Bim is a critical player in BCR-mediated apoptosis and in B lymphocyte deletion.
apoptosis; transgenic mice; tolerance; gene knockout; autoimmunity