Adoptive T cell therapy is an important additional treatment option for malignant diseases resistant to chemotherapy. Using a murine high-grade B cell lymphoma model, we have addressed the question whether the B cell differentiation antigen CD19 can act as rejection antigen. CD19(-/-) mice inoculated with CD19(+) B cell lymphoma cells showed higher survival rates than WT mice and were protected against additional tumor challenge. T cell depletion prior to tumor transfer completely abolished the protective response. By heterotypic vaccination of CD19(-/-) mice against murine CD19, survival after tumor challenge was significantly increased. To define protective epitopes within the CD19 molecule, T cells collected from mice that had survived the tumor transfer were analyzed for IFN? secretion in response to CD19-derived peptides. The majority of mice exhibited a CD4(+) T cell response to CD19 peptide 27, which was the most dominant epitope after CD19 vaccination. A peptide 27-specific CD4(+) T cell line protected CD19(-/-) mice against challenge with CD19(+) lymphoma and also cured a significant proportion of WT mice from recurrent disease in a model of minimal residual disease after chemotherapy. In conclusion, our data highlight CD19-specific CD4(+) T cells for adoptive T cell therapy of B cell lymphomas.
To assess current clinical practice in diagnosis and treatment of acute graft-versus-host disease (aGVHD), we performed a survey among German, Austrian, and Swiss allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT) centers. Thirty-four of 72 contacted centers (47%) completed both the diagnostic and therapeutic sections of the survey, representing 65% of allo-HSCT activity within the participating countries in 2011. Three pediatric centers answered as requested only the diagnostic part of the survey. In the presence of diarrhea and decreased oral intake after engraftment, only 4 centers (12%) do not perform any endoscopy before the start of immunosuppressive treatment. In case of a skin rash with the differential diagnosis of drug reaction, only 12 centers (35%) perform a skin biopsy up front, whereas 19 do so after failure of systemic steroids. In the presence of rapidly increasing cholestasis occurring without any other signs of aGVHD, 11 centers (32%) perform a liver biopsy up front and 14 only after failure of steroid treatment, whereas 9 centers do not perform a liver biopsy at all. Twenty centers (59%) use a percutaneous approach, 12 a transvenous approach, and 1 mini-laparoscopy for liver biopsies. First-line treatment of cutaneous aGVHD stage 1 consists of topical treatment alone in 17 of 31 responding centers (61%), whereas isolated cutaneous aGVHD stage III is treated with systemic steroids (prednisolone below 0.5 mg/kg/day n = 2, 0.5 to 1.0 mg/kg/day n = 10, above 1.0 to 2.5 mg/kg/day n = 19) without or with topical agents (steroids n = 10; calcineurin inhibitors n = 3). In gastrointestinal manifestations of aGVHD, 9 centers (29%) add topical to systemic steroids, and 3 consider topical steroids as the only treatment for mild gastrointestinal and cutaneous aGVHD. The choice of agent for second-line treatment as well as the sequence of administration are extremely heterogeneous, most likely due to a lack of convincing data published. Most frequently used are mycophenolate mofetil (n = 14) and extracorporeal photopheresis (n = 10). Our survey also demonstrates that clinicians chose salvage therapies for steroid-refractory aGVHD based on their centers own clinical experience.
Over-expression of the proto-oncogene c-MYC is frequently observed in a variety of tumors and is a hallmark of Burkitt´s lymphoma. The fact that many tumors are oncogene-addicted to c-MYC, renders c-MYC a powerful target for anti-tumor therapy. Using a xenogenic vaccination strategy by immunizing C57BL/6 mice with human c-MYC protein or non-homologous peptides, we show that the human c-MYC protein, despite its high homology between mouse and man, contains several immunogenic epitopes presented in the context of murine H2(b) haplotype. We identified an MHC class II-restricted CD4? T-cell epitope and therein an MHC class I-restricted CD8? T-cell epitope (SSPQGSPEPL) that, after prime/boost immunization, protected up to 25% of mice against a lethal lymphoma challenge. Lymphoma-rejecting animals contained MHC multimer-binding CD8? cell within the peripheral blood and displayed in vivo cytolytic activity with specificity for SSPQGSPEPL. Taken together these data suggest that oncogenic c-MYC can be targeted with specific T-cells.
Extramedullary relapses after allogeneic stem cell transplantation, especially within the central nervous system (CNS), are not only difficult to treat but also associated with poor outcome. Although the graft-versus-leukemia (GvL) effect is nowadays accepted and well documented, it remains controversial whether one can make use of GvL effects in immunological-restricted areas ("sanctuary sites") like the central nervous system. Here, we present data of three hematological patients suffering from isolated CNS relapse of CML or AML after allogeneic stem cell transplantation. Patients received in addition to chemotherapy intrathecal infusions of donor lymphocytes by CD14 depletion of peripheral blood mononuclear cells from the correspondent allogeneic donor. Referring to an observation period of maximum 17 months no immediate or delayed side effects could be detected.
Parathyroid hormone (PTH) has been shown to promote stem cell mobilization into peripheral blood. Moreover, PTH treatment after myocardial infarction (MI) improved survival and myocardial function associated with enhanced homing of bone marrow-derived stem cells (BMCs). To unravel the molecular mechanisms of PTH-mediated stem cell trafficking, we analysed wild-type (wt) and green fluorescent protein (GFP)-transgenic mice after MI with respect to the pivotal stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF-1)/chemokine receptor type 4 (CXCR4) axis.
Clinical studies indicate a role of allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (alloHCT) for patients with refractory or recurrent B-cell lymphoma (BCL) indicative of a graft-versus-tumor effect. However, the relevance of local immunosuppression in the BCL microenvironment by donor-derived regulatory T cells (Treg) after alloHCT is unclear. Therefore, we studied Treg recruitment after alloHCT in different murine BCL models and the impact of lymphoma-derived chemoattractive signals. Luciferase transgenic Tregs accumulated in murine BCL microenvironment and microarray-based analysis of BCL tissues revealed increased expression of CXCL9, CXCL10, and CXCL12. In vivo blocking identified the CXCR4/CXCL12 axis as being critical for Treg attraction toward BCL. In contrast to Tregs, effector T cells displayed low levels of CXCR4 and were not affected by the pharmacologic blockade. Most important, blocking CXCR4 not only reduced Treg migration toward tumor tissue but also enhanced antitumor responses after alloHCT. CXCL12 production was dependent on antigen-presenting cells (APC) located in the lymphoma microenvironment, and their diphtheria-toxin receptor (DTR)-based depletion in CD11c.DTR-Tg mice significantly reduced Treg accumulation within BCL tissue. CXCL12 was also detected in human diffuse, large BCL tissues indicative of its potential clinical relevance. In conclusion, we demonstrate that Tregs are recruited toward BCL after alloHCT by infiltrating host APCs in a CXCL12-dependent fashion. Blocking CXCR4 enhanced antitumor effects and prolonged survival of tumor-bearing mice by reducing local Treg accumulation, indicating that CXCR4 is a potential target to interfere with tumor escape after alloHCT.
After allogeneic hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (HSCT), donor-derived T cells may elicit graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) and graft-versus-tumor (GVT) responses. The main targets of GVHD and GVT responses after human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-identical HSCT are minor histocompatibility antigens (mHAgs), that is, polymorphic gene products in which recipient and donor differ. Thus, for increasing beneficial GVT and decreasing life-threatening GVHD responses, knowledge of the relevant mHags is required. Here, we sought to identify mHags recognized by CD4 T cells using a novel serologic approach.
Steroid refractory chronic graft-versus-host disease (cGVHD) is associated with a significant morbidity and mortality. Although first-line treatment of cGVHD is based on controlled trials, second-line treatment is almost solely based on phase II trials or retrospective analyses. The consensus conference on clinical practice in cGVHD held in Regensburg aimed to achieve a consensus on the current evidence of treatment options as well as to provide guidelines for daily clinical practice. Treatment modalities are the use of steroids and calcineurin inhibitors as well as immunomodulating modalities (photopheresis, mTOR-inhibitors, thalidomide, hydroxychloroquine, vitamin A analogs, clofazimine), and cytostatic agents (mycophenolate mofetil, methotrexate, cyclophosphamide, pentostatin). Recent reports showed some efficacy of rituximab, alemtuzumab, and etanercept in selected patients. Moreover, tyrosine kinase inihibitors such as imatinib came into the field because of their ability to interfere with the platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF-R) pathway involved in fibrosis. An other treatment option is low-dose thoracoabdominal irradiation. Although different treatment options are available, the "trial-and-error system" remains the only way to identify the drug effective in the individual patient, and valid biomarkers are eagerly needed to identify the likelihood of response to a drug in advance. Moreover, the sparse evidence for most treatment entities indicates the urgent need for systematic evaluation of second-line treatment options in cGVHD.
Chronic graft-versus-host disease (cGVHD) after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation is still associated with significant morbidity and mortality. First-line treatment of cGVHD is based on steroids of 1 mg/kg/day of prednisone. The role of calcineurin inhibitors remains controversial, especially in patients with low risk for mortality (normal platelets counts), whereas patients with low platelets at diagnosis and/or high risk for steroid toxicity may be treated upfront with the combination of prednisone and a calcineurin inhibitor. Additional systemic immunosuppressive agents, like thalidomide, mycophenolic acid, and azathioprine, failed to improve treatment results in the primary treatment of cGVHD and are in part associated with higher morbidity, and in the case of azathioprine, with higher mortality. Despite advances in diagnosis of cGVHD as well as supportive care, half of the patients fail to achieve a long-lasting response to first-line treatment, and infectious morbidity continues to be significant. Therefore, immunomodulatory interventions with low infectious morbidity and mortality such as photopheresis need urgent evaluation in clinical trials. Beside systemic immunosuppression, the use of topical immunosuppressive interventions may improve local response rates and may be used as the only treatment in mild localized organ manifestations of cGVHD.
A given tumor is usually dependent on the oncogene that is activated in the respective tumor entity. This phenomenon called oncogene addiction provides the rationale for attempts to target oncogene products in a therapeutic manner, be it by small molecules, by small interfering RNAs (siRNA) or by antigen-specific T cells. As the proto-oncogene product is required also for the function of normal cells, this raises the question whether there is a therapeutic window between the adverse effects of specific inhibitors or T cells to normal tissue that may limit their application, and their beneficial tumor-specific therapeutic action. To address this crucial question, suitable mouse strains need to be developed, that enable expression of the human proto-oncogene not only in tumor but also in normal cells. The aim of this work is to provide such a mouse strain for the human proto-oncogene product c-MYC.
To study mechanisms of T cell-mediated rejection of B cell lymphomas, we developed a murine lymphoma model wherein three potential rejection antigens, human c-MYC, chicken ovalbumin (OVA), and GFP are expressed. After transfer into wild-type mice 60-70% of systemically growing lymphomas expressing all three antigens were rejected; lymphomas expressing only human c-MYC protein were not rejected. OVA expressing lymphomas were infiltrated by T cells, showed MHC class I and II upregulation, and lost antigen expression, indicating immune escape. In contrast to wild-type recipients, 80-100% of STAT1-, IFN-?-, or IFN-? receptor-deficient recipients died of lymphoma, indicating that host IFN-? signaling is critical for rejection. Lymphomas arising in IFN-?- and IFN-?-receptor-deficient mice had invariably lost antigen expression, suggesting that poor overall survival of these recipients was due to inefficient elimination of antigen-negative lymphoma variants. Antigen-dependent eradication of lymphoma cells in wild-type animals was dependent on cross-presentation of antigen by cells of the tumor stroma. These findings provide first evidence for an important role of the tumor stroma in T cell-mediated control of hematologic neoplasias and highlight the importance of incorporating stroma-targeting strategies into future immunotherapeutic approaches.
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