Hematology-oncology patients undergoing chemotherapy and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) recipients are at risk for oral complications which may cause significant morbidity and a potential risk of mortality. This emphasizes the importance of basic oral care prior to, during and following chemotherapy/HSCT. While scientific evidence is available to support some of the clinical practices used to manage the oral complications, expert opinion is needed to shape the current optimal protocols.
Relapse of the original disease remains the most common cause of treatment failure after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-SCT). Patients who relapse post-allo-SCT can achieve prolonged remission after donor lymphocyte infusion. Donor lymphocyte infusion as well as other immunotherapeutic strategies are usually complicated by severe graft versus host disease.
The wormsorter is an instrument analogous to a FACS machine that is used in studies of Caenorhabditis elegans, typically to sort worms based on expression of a fluorescent reporter. Here, we highlight an alternative usage of this instrument, for sorting worms according to their degree of colonization by a GFP-expressing pathogen. This new usage allowed us to address the relationship between colonization of the worm intestine and induction of immune responses. While C. elegans immune responses to different pathogens have been documented, it is still unknown what initiates them. The two main possibilities (which are not mutually exclusive) are recognition of pathogen-associated molecular patterns, and detection of damage caused by infection. To differentiate between the two possibilities, exposure to the pathogen must be dissociated from the damage it causes. The wormsorter enabled separation of worms that were extensively-colonized by the Gram-negative pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa, with the damage likely caused by pathogen load, from worms that were similarly exposed, but not, or marginally, colonized. These distinct populations were used to assess the relationship between pathogen load and the induction of transcriptional immune responses. The results suggest that the two are dissociated, supporting the possibility of pathogen recognition.
The MUC1 tumor associated antigen is highly expressed on a range of tumors. Its broad distribution on primary tumors and metastases renders it an attractive target for immunotherapy. After synthesis MUC1 is cleaved, yielding a large soluble extracellular alpha subunit containing the tandem repeats array (TRA) domain specifically bound, via non-covalent interaction, to a smaller beta subunit containing the transmembrane and cytoplasmic domains. Thus far, inconclusive efficacy has been reported for anti-MUC1 antibodies directed against the soluble alpha subunit. Targeting the cell bound beta subunit, may bypass limitations posed by circulating TRA domains. MUC1's signal peptide (SP) domain promiscuously binds multiple MHC class II and Class I alleles, which upon vaccination, generated robust T-cell immunity against MUC1-positive tumors. This is a first demonstration of non-MHC associated, MUC1 specific, cell surfaces presence for MUC1 SP domain. Polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies generated against MUC1 SP domain specifically bind a large variety of MUC1-positive human solid and haematological tumor cell lines; MUC1-positive bone marrow derived plasma cells obtained from multiple myeloma (MM)-patients, but not MUC1 negative tumors cells, and normal naive primary blood and epithelial cells. Membranal MUC1 SP appears mainly as an independent entity but also co-localized with the full MUC1 molecule. MUC1-SP specific binding in BM-derived plasma cells can assist in selecting patients to be treated with anti-MUC1 SP therapeutic vaccine, ImMucin. A therapeutic potential of the anti-MUC1 SP antibodies was suggested by their ability to support of complement-mediated lysis of MUC1-positive tumor cells but not MUC1 negative tumor cells and normal naive primary epithelial cells. These findings suggest a novel cell surface presence of MUC1 SP domain, a potential therapeutic benefit for anti-MUC1 SP antibodies in MUC1-positive tumors and a selection tool for MM patients to be treated with the anti-MUC1 SP vaccine, ImMucin.
We examined the rate, clinical impact, and risk factors of cytomegalovirus (CMV) drug resistance in 561 patients who underwent 616 hematopoietic stem cell transplantations (HSCTs) over 5 years. Drug resistance was exclusively identified in haploidentical (haplo)-HSCT recipients receiving preemptive therapy, among whom the rate was 14.5%. Resistance appeared after prolonged treatment (median, 70 days), was associated with higher preceding viral load (P < .001), and was the strongest predictor for disease by multivariate analysis. The high rate of drug resistance as interlinked with severe disease in haplo-HSCT recipients suggests the potential advantage of prophylactic over preemptive treatment in high-risk patients and highlights the need for better-tolerable anti-CMV drugs.
We compared the tolerability and anti-myeloma effect of two conditioning regimens for autologous stem cell transplant (auto-SCT) in consecutive groups of patients. Protocol 1 was the earlier, and consisted of the combination of three agents in a sequential manner, including etoposide, thiotepa and melphalan (n = 29), while protocol 2 employed melphalan alone (n = 34). The two groups were comparable (other than younger age in protocol 1). Conditioning with protocol 1 seemed more toxic, as expressed by the higher number of febrile days and higher demand for parenteral nutrition. This was not expressed with longer admission time. With 108 and 60 months median follow-up, respectively, the median survival in patients treated by protocol 2 (melphalan 200 mg/m(2)) was reached at 59 months, while the median survival was not yet reached in patients treated with protocol 1 (p = 0.039). The time to progression was significantly longer with protocol 1 (median 44 months vs. 17 months with protocol 2, p = 0.033). Confounded by the small number of patients, conditioning with melphalan augmented by etoposide and thiotepa in a sequential manner is slightly more toxic than melphalan alone and may benefit patients with myeloma undergoing auto-SCT.
Natural killer (NK) cells are important elements of innate immunity, and a large body of evidence supports the significant role of NK in immune surveillance against infections and tumors. Regulation of cytotoxic activity is mediated through activating and inhibitory receptors expressed on the cell surface. NK cells are key players of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-SCT), and previous studies showed the beneficial effect of NK alloreactivity in prevention of relapse, especially in the setting of haploidentical SCT. Biology of human NK cells is an area of active research. Exploitation of the molecular mechanisms regulating NK maturation, tolerance to self, and NK-mediated cytotoxicity will help in the development of innovative NK cell immunotherapy methods.
Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is an increasingly available treatment option for patients with various oncologic, hematologic, and immunologic diseases. Although HSCT can be curative for some diseases, complications associated with this treatment limit its success and applicability. Gastrointestinal graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) and hepatic veno-occlusive disease are unique and deadly complications of HSCT. These diseases can mimic other HSCT complications, such as infection, hemorrhage, and hepatotoxicity with cholestasis, but GVHD and veno-occlusive disease require specific treatment. Early treatment improves the probability of treatment success. For these reasons, timely and accurate diagnosis is essential. Abdominal imaging and intervention play an important role in the early, minimally invasive diagnosis and treatment of GVHD and veno-occlusive disease. Imaging findings tend to be nonspecific, but common findings that may guide further management or establish a diagnosis in the clinical setting have been defined. In cases where the diagnosis is unclear and liver biopsy is required, image-guided transvenous liver biopsy may be a safer and more practical option than the transcutaneous approach. Image-guided interventions, including intraarterial steroid-injection therapy in severe, systemic steroid-refractory GVHD and transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt placement in veno-occlusive disease with portal hypertension, have shown some promise in small, uncontrolled series. Larger, controlled studies are needed to define the role of these invasive procedures in this patient population.
Symbiosis, the living together of unlike organisms, such as between microbes and their multicellular eukaryotic hosts, can be categorized as parasitic, commensal or mutualistic. The establishment of symbiosis and the outcome of microbe-host interactions are dictated largely by both microbe- and host-derived factors. Over the last decade, the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans has provided a facile experimental system to study such interactions, with parasitic interactions being the primary focus. The myriad of genetic and molecular tools available has made C. elegans a powerful model system to interrogate the interactions between a host and its pathogens, and has provided a greater understanding of the molecular underpinnings of these interactions, many of which were found to be conserved across other taxa. Commensal and mutualistic interactions between worms and their microbes, although less studied, have the potential to enhance our understanding of genetic and molecular features underlying host-microbe interactions. Here, we highlight new insights obtained in delineating the signalling pathways that function within and between host cells in combating assaults from extracellular and intracellular pathogens. We also discuss potential new insights that could be gained from further studies into commensal and mutualistic relationships between nematodes and microbes.
We evaluated the formation of hemagglutination-inhibition (HI) antibodies in response to vaccination of 55 allogeneic and 23 autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) recipients with 3.75 ?g inactivated influenza A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)v-like virus adjuvanted with AS03, given towards the end of the 2009 influenza pandemic. The 78 HSCT recipients, aged 11-72 (median 50) years, were vaccinated 1-290 (median 27) months post-HSCT. Of the 55 allogeneic HSCT recipients, 50.9% received reduced intensity conditioning, 74.5% had a sibling donor, 67.2% had active graft-versus-host disease and 43.6% were on steroid therapy. At baseline, 14/78 (17.9%) had HI titers ? 1:40. Blood samples of 77 patients were available post-1st vaccination; of these, 34 (44.2%) patients had HI titers ? 1:40. Blood samples of 43 patients were available post-2nd vaccination; of these, 21 (48.8%) had HI titers ? 1:40. There was a significant increase in HI titers ? 1:40 from baseline to both post-1st and 2nd vaccinations (p<0.001 each), and also from 1st to 2nd vaccination (p=0.008). In seronegative (HI titers <1:10) patients, whose sera were available before, after one dose, and after 2 doses of vaccine, seroconversion (to ? 1:40) occurred in 4/24 (16.7%) after 1-dose and in a total of 10/24 (41.7%) after 2-dose vaccination (p=0.031). Logistic regression analysis revealed that ? 1:40 HI titers were significantly associated with higher lymphocyte counts and higher HI baseline titers and, in allogeneic HSCT, with having a sibling donor and higher baseline titers. In conclusion, 2-dose vaccination with AS03-adjuvanted vaccine containing 3.75 ?g antigen resulted in a statistically significant, yet limited, serological response. Therefore, additional precautions should be taken during influenza outbreaks.
Chronic graft-versus-host disease (cGVHD) frequently involves oral tissues. Although the mucosal changes may be painful and impair oral function, there is currently no topical therapy available for oral cGVHD that has been proven to work in an evidence-based manner. The aims of this study were to (1) assess the response of patients with oral cGVHD to various doses of a new topical budesonide formulation; (2) evaluate the efficacy and safety of the new topical budesonide formulation in these patients. An open, randomized, multicenter phase II pilot study with 4 treatment arms differing in application frequency and duration was performed. Response to treatment was scored by the clinician and patient using several scales. Oral cGVHD improved in all patients, with a median reduction of 70%. Pain reduction was similar in all study arms. The rate of objective improvement (defined as ?50%) was not significantly different among the 4 study arms. The safety profile was satisfactory. Topical budesonide mouthwash (3 mg/10 mL) improved oral cGVHD in all patients when applied for 5 or 10 minutes, 2 or 3 times daily. The response was similar in all treatment arms. Safety analysis supported a dosing schedule of 3 mg of budesonide 3 times a day for 10 minutes.
In the mid-1990s, we introduced a fludarabine (Flu)-based conditioning regimen for hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) in patients with Fanconi anemia (FA).The aim of this study is to compare Flu-based conditioning to alternative regimens in patients with FA. Forty-one patients with FA (aged 0.5-31, median, 10.3 years) who underwent allogeneic HSCT were included in this retrospective study. Hospital records were reviewed for conditioning regimens, engraftment data, and toxicity. The median (range) follow-up was 32 (0.5-149) months. Flu-based conditioning regimens were used in 24 patients: 17 patients were treated with alternative conditioning regimens including a radiation-based regimen/cyclophosphamide and busulfan regimen. The disease-free survival (DFS) after Flu-based regimens is 83% (20/24) versus 35% (6/17) for the alternative regimens (P = .002). Toxicity was significantly lower in patients who received Flu-based conditioning (modified Bearman toxicity score [P = .001]). Seven patients received transplants from matched unrelated donors without irradiation (5 of whom are currently alive and well). All patients who survived are disease free and in good clinical condition. We conclude that a combination of fludarabine with antithymocyte globulin (ATG) and low-dose cyclophosphamide (Cy) and/or busulfan (Bu) is safe, demonstrates low rejection rates, and is well tolerated by FA patients.
In partially matched donor transplantation, mandatory T-cell depletion (TCD) increases the risks of rejection/graft failure, relapse, and post-transplant infections. A multi-donor approach was offered to resolve some of these drawbacks. This hypothesis was previously tested in a TCD fully mismatched murine model. However, the effect of multi-donor transplantation (MDT) on graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) and graft versus tumor (GVT) effect were never tested. To assess the safety and efficacy of MDT, we used it in non-TCD transplantation and murine breast carcinoma model. We found that when transplanting non-TCD MDT composed by C57Bl/6 and C3H cells into BALB/c, a consistent trichimerism is established, dominated by C57Bl/6 cells. Following MDT the study animals experienced reduced GVHD compare with those transplanted from C57Bl/6 alone, while the GVT effect was superior. We conclude that MDT may serve as a technique that suppresses GVHD while maintaining the GVT effect.
The objective of this study was to assess the efficacy of a novel visible-light therapy (VLT) device for the prevention of oral mucositis in hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) patients. A VLT-device suitable for intra-oral use was applied to 20 patients undergoing HSCT. The study design was placebo-controlled, randomized and double-blind. Oral mucositis was assessed using the OMAS and WHO scales. Oral pain and acceptance levels were scored by the patient using a 10-step scale. Patients were evaluated once a week until day 21 post-HSCT. Mucositis rate, severity and pain score were compared. At the third visit, 1week post-HSCT, mucositis rates were significantly lower in the treatment group (for both WHO and OMAS p=0.02). Mucositis was also less severe in the treatment group (for WHO p=0.01; for OMAS p=0.01). Furthermore, the patients in the treatment group reported lower pain levels (p=0.04). The treatment was well tolerated and highly accepted, with no reports of adverse events related to the device. These findings suggest that the VLT-device is safe and effective for the prevention of oral mucositis in patients undergoing HSCT.
The feasibility and safety of immunotherapy mediated by intentionally mismatched rIL-2 activated killer lymphocytes (IMAK) with no prior stem cell engraftment was investigated in patients with advanced chemotherapy-resistant hematological malignancies and metastatic solid tumors. Our goals were to maximize anti-cancer activity by using intentionally mismatched donor lymphocytes; amplify killing of target cancer cells by rIL-2 activation of killer cells in vitro and in vivo, and avoid the risk of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) by anticipated rejection of alloreactive donor lymphocytes. Conditioning consisted of 5 days of fludarabine 25 mg/m(2) or a single dose of cyclophosphamide 1,000 mg/m(2), 2 subcutaneous injections of alpha interferon (IFN) 3 x 10(6) and COX2 inhibitors, followed by administration of IMAK (65 +/- 5 CD3(+)CD56(-); 17 +/- 5 CD3(-)CD56(+)) in conjunction with low dose subcutaneous rIL-2 (6 x 10(6) IU/m(2)/day) for 5 days for continuous activation of alloreactive donor lymphocytes prior to their anticipated rejection. Here, we present our phase 1 clinical study data in a cohort of 40 high-risk patients with metastatic solid tumors and hematological malignancies. Treatment was accompanied by some malaise and occasional self-limited fever but otherwise well tolerated on an outpatient basis. Transient engraftment of donor cells was documented in two patients and only one developed self-limited grade 1 GVHD. Among patients with chemotherapy-resistant disease, long-term progression-free survival was recorded in 5 of 21 evaluable patients with metastatic solid tumors and in four of five patients with hematological malignancies. We conclude that the proposed procedure is feasible, safe, and potentially effective, with some otherwise resistant cancer patients long-term disease-free, thus justifying larger Phase II studies in patients with hematological malignancies and metastatic solid tumors, preferably at a stage of minimal residual disease with the goal in mind to eradicate all malignant cells at an early stage of the disease.
Most allogeneic haematopoietic stem cell transplants now use peripheral blood progenitor cell transplantation (PBPCT) instead of bone-marrow transplantation (BMT). Long-term data on outcome and late effects of PBPCT compared with BMT are scarce. Here we present long-term data from a randomised study comparing PBPCT with BMT.
Brain injury may result in the development of epilepsy, one of the most common neurological disorders. We previously demonstrated that albumin is critical in the generation of epilepsy after blood-brain barrier (BBB) compromise. Here, we identify TGF-beta pathway activation as the underlying mechanism. We demonstrate that direct activation of the TGF-beta pathway by TGF-beta1 results in epileptiform activity similar to that after exposure to albumin. Coimmunoprecipitation revealed binding of albumin to TGF-beta receptor II, and Smad2 phosphorylation confirmed downstream activation of this pathway. Transcriptome profiling demonstrated similar expression patterns after BBB breakdown, albumin, and TGF-beta1 exposure, including modulation of genes associated with the TGF-beta pathway, early astrocytic activation, inflammation, and reduced inhibitory transmission. Importantly, TGF-beta pathway blockers suppressed most albumin-induced transcriptional changes and prevented the generation of epileptiform activity. Our present data identifies the TGF-beta pathway as a novel putative epileptogenic signaling cascade and therapeutic target for the prevention of injury-induced epilepsy.
The aim of this study was to validate the 2005-2006 National Institutes of Health (NIH) scale for patients self-reporting and clinical manifestations of oral chronic graft-versus-host disease (cGVHD). Numerical parameters of the NIH scale were analyzed for their construct validity (correlation of the NIH scale with numerical rating scale [NRS] for pain) and internal consistency reliability (correlation between different parameters of the same scale). Categoric parameters were analyzed by comparison between severity subgroups defined by the oral manifestation (lichenoid/erythema/ulceration). Analysis included data of 75 evaluations. The total NIH score and the NRS for pain were found to be moderately correlated (r=0.449). Cronbachs alpha reliability coefficient was .718. Strong correlations were found between the total NIH score and both erythema and ulceration scores (r=0.746 and r=0.926, respectively). The difference between the 2 "severe" subgroups (ie, lichenoid and erythema/ulceration) was significant (P=.025). The difference between the moderate-erythema/ulceration subgroup and the severe-lichenoid subgroup was nonsignificant (total NIH score and NRS for pain: P=.276 and .291, respectively). The correlation between the total NIH score and the NRS for pain is only moderate. The internal consistency reliability analysis yielded good reliability, especially for erythema and ulceration. Analysis of categoric parameters suggests that the NIH scale disproportionately differentiates between moderate-erythema/ulceration and severe-lichenoid cGVHD.
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is an extremely aggressive disease with a high relapse rate even after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). We report the successful outcome of cell-mediated cytokine-activated immunotherapy in a high-risk pediatric AML patient who relapsed shortly after allogeneic HSCT. Donor lymphocyte infusion along with interferon induced a graft-versus-leukemia effect, presenting as a reversible episode of graft-versus-host disease, which led to stable complete donor chimerism and total eradication of AML for over 24 months, at the time of this report. The curative potential of immunotherapy in hematological malignancies is discussed.
The major cause of treatment failure following high-dose therapy with autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT) for aggressive B cell non-Hodgkins lymphoma (NHL) is persistent disease or recurrence. We describe our experience with the administration of rituximab post-ASCT, either as maintenance therapy or for the treatment of relapsed disease in patients with aggressive B cell NHL. Fifty-six patients achieved complete remission post-transplant, and 19 of them received maintenance with rituximab. Maintenance with rituximab resulted in statistically significant superior outcome in terms of progression free (PFS; p = 0.002) and overall survival (OS; p = 0.011). The median PFS and OS of patients in the maintenance arm has not been reached yet, while the median PFS and OS of patients in the control arm were 29 and 42 months, respectively. Fifty-four patients had disease progression or relapsed post-ASCT, and 15 of them received rituximab in combination with chemo- and/or radiotherapy in order to achieve disease remission. Therapeutic administration of rituximab resulted in statistically significant prolongation of OS (p = 0.021). The median OS of patients treated with rituximab was 17 months, while median OS of patients in the control group was 10 months. We consider that the results of our study are promising but need to be verified within large randomized trials.
We have shown previously that alefacept is effective in acute steroid resistant/dependent and chronic extensive graft versus host disease (GvHD) with a protocol using timings similar to those used for psoriasis treatment. In this study, we describe the use of an alefacept induction (e.g. for 7 consecutive days) followed by a bi-weekly maintenance treatment in combination with tacrolimus for acute steroid resistant/dependent GvHD 1, 3.
The failure of allogeneic stem cell transplant (allo-SCT) is cumbersome. We analyzed our experience in a second allo-SCT. Between the years 1981 and 2007, 144 patients underwent 2 or more allo-SCT. The first to second transplant interval ranged from 18 days to 13.25 years (median 98 days). The most frequent indications for the second SCT were activity of the basic disease (78), rejection (37), and engraftment failure (25). Twenty-nine of the 144 (20%) patients transplanted survived more then a year with treatment-related mortality of 45.5% as the leading cause of death. Interestingly, despite the low rate of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) prophylaxis used, only 51 and 16 of the patients developed acute and chronic GVHD (aGVHD, cGVHD), respectively. Factors indicating higher likelihood for survival were nonmalignant disease, a nonrelapse indication for the second SCT, full HLA-matching, and the use of reduced-intensity conditioning (RIC). Age at transplantation, time interval between transplants, the development of GVHD, conditioning regimen, GVHD prophylaxis, or graft source were not shown to influence the prognosis. With a median follow-up of 4.5 years, 25 patients (17.2%) are alive, and 18 are disease-free. We conclude that although toxic, a second allo-SCT can lead to long-term survival.
Immune-mediated cytopenias after allogeneic stem cell transplantation can be categorized as either alloimmune when host or donor immunity reacts against donor or host elements, respectively, or autoimmune when donor immunity reacts against donor hematopoietic tissue, owing to poorly understood mechanisms that result in severe impairment of central and peripheral tolerance. Immune cytopenias are manifested as monolineage or more rarely as bilineage cytopenias, and are usually mediated through humoral immune mechanisms. On the contrary, immune-mediated pancytopenia is a rare event with only few cases reported in the literature. The exact pathogenesis of immune pancytopenia is not well known although it is possible that cellular immunity may play a significant role. The importance of these syndromes lies in the fact that they can cause severe morbidity and mortality. Differential diagnosis from other causes of post-transplant pancytopenia is of extreme value because these disorders can respond to various treatment modalities.
The importance of our inner microbial communities for proper immune responses against invading pathogens is now well accepted, but the mechanisms underlying this protection are largely unknown. In this study, we used Caenorhabditis elegans to investigate such mechanisms. Since very little is known about the microbes interacting with C. elegans in its natural environment, we began by taking the first steps to characterize the C. elegans microbiota. We established a natural-like environment in which initially germfree, wild-type larvae were grown on enriched soil. Bacterial members of the adult C. elegans microbiota were isolated by culture and identified using 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Using pure cultures of bacterial isolates as food, we identified two, Bacillus megaterium and Pseudomonas mendocina, that enhanced resistance to a subsequent infection with the Gram-negative pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Whereas protection by B. megaterium was linked to impaired egg laying, corresponding to a known trade-off between fecundity and resistance, the mechanism underlying protection conferred by P. mendocina depended on weak induction of immune genes regulated by the p38 MAPK pathway. Disruption of the p38 ortholog, pmk-1, abolished protection. P. mendocina enhanced resistance to P. aeruginosa but not to the Gram-positive pathogen Enterococcus faecalis. Furthermore, protection from P. aeruginosa was similarly induced by a P. aeruginosa gacA mutant with attenuated virulence but not by a different C. elegans-associated Pseudomonas sp. isolate. Our results support a pivotal role for the conserved p38 pathway in microbiota-initiated immune protection and suggest that similarity between microbiota members and pathogens may play a role in such protection.
Cyclosporine (CSA) is the most commonly used medication for GVHD prophylaxis. The initiation time varies from day -4 to day 0. Initially, we gave CSA starting on day -1. However, since 2003 we have changed CSA initiation timing policy in most of our protocols to day -4, to achieve stable and controlled pretransplant CSA levels. Here, we assessed if initiation time impact the outcome of allogeneic stem-cell transplantation (allo-SCT). Data of 261 patients who underwent allo-SCT for hematological malignancies from a fully matched donor, treated with CSA as a single agent for GVHD prophylaxis were prospectively collected. Patients were divided according to CSA initiation time and analyzed for outcome. The acute GVHD severity, cGVHD extent, GVHD-associated mortality were significantly lower in the CSA -4 group. There was no difference in the rate and timing of acute or chronic GVHD. Overall survival did not differ between the groups. We conclude that the initiation of CSA at day -4 reduced the severity of aGVHD, extent of cGVHD, and GVHD-associated mortality without impact on overall survival.
Naturally generated autoantibodies to tumor-associated antigens such as MUC1 can assist in cancer diagnosis and prognosis. While previous studies have concentrated on the tandem repeat array domain of MUC1, here we focused on MUC1s signal peptide domain. We used ELISA assays with MUC1-specific epitopes and antibodies to quantify soluble MUC1 antigen and anti-MUC1 autoantibodies against the tandem repeat array and signal peptide domains in 15 naïve donors and 27 multiple myeloma cancer patients. We showed a significant increase in up to 24-fold (P<0.004) only in the levels of anti-MUC1 signal peptide autoantibodies in the sera of multiple myeloma patients vs. naïve donors. This increase stemmed chiefly from the preferred immunogenicity of the signal peptide. Moreover, a significant positive correlation (R(2)=0.5361, P<0.048, Pearson correlation) was shown between the levels of soluble MUC1 and anti-MUC1 signal peptide autoantibodies in multiple myeloma patients with progressive disease while under therapy. This is an initial report on the existence of autoantibodies to a signal peptide domain in general and to the MUC1 signal peptide domain in particular in cancer patients. The autoantibodies had MUC1 rather than signal peptide specificity. The specific nature of the antigen leading to generation of these autoantibodies is still unclear because it is unlikely that the target antigen is a major histo-compatibility complex-peptide complex and we could not trace soluble MUC1 signal peptide fragments in naïve donors and multiple myeloma patients. Further validation of these findings may improve diagnostic and prognostic capabilities for MUC1-positive multiple myeloma patients and potentially, patients with other MUC1-positive cancers, as well.
Stress-activated protein kinase (SAPK) pathways are evolutionarily conserved signaling modules that orchestrate protective responses to adverse environmental conditions. However, under certain conditions, their activation can be deleterious. Thus, activation of the c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) SAPK pathway exacerbates a diverse set of pathologies, many of which are typical of old age. The contexts determining whether the outcome of JNK signaling is protective or detrimental are not fully understood. Here, we show that the age of an animal defines such a context. The Caenorhabditis elegans JNK homolog, KGB-1, provides protection from heavy metals and protein folding stress in developing animals. However, we found that with the onset of adulthood, KGB-1 activity becomes detrimental, reducing stress resistance and lifespan. Genetic analyses coupled with fluorescent imaging linked this phenotypic switch to age-dependent antagonistic modulation of DAF-16/FOXO: KGB-1 activation enhanced DAF-16 nuclear localization and transcriptional activity during development but decreased it in adults. Epistasis analyses showed that DAF-16 was necessary and sufficient to explain some of the kgb-1-dependent detrimental phenotypes, but not all. The identification of early adulthood as a point following which the contribution of KGB-1 activity reverses from beneficial to detrimental sheds new light on the involvement of JNK signaling in age-related pathologies. Furthermore, the age-dependent reversal has intriguing implications for our understanding of aging.
Caenorhabditis elegans has been used for over a decade to characterize signaling cascades controlling innate immune responses. However, what initiates these responses in the worm has remained elusive. To gain a better understanding of the initiating events we delineated genome-wide immune responses to the bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa in worms heavily-colonized by the pathogen versus worms visibly not colonized. We found that infection responses in both groups were identical, suggesting that immune responses were not correlated with colonization and its associated damage. Quantitative RT-PCR measurements further showed that pathogen secreted factors were not able to induce an immune response, but exposure to a non-pathogenic Pseudomonas species was. These findings raise the possibility that the C.elegans immune response is initiated by recognition of microbe-associated molecular patterns. In the absence of orthologs of known pattern recognition receptors, C. elegans may rely on novel mechanisms, thus holding the potential to advance our understanding of evolutionarily conserved strategies for pathogen recognition.
The therapeutic efficacy of allogeneic stem cell transplantation is mainly based on the alloreactive immune response of the graft against the host. However, the graft-versus-host process can be viewed as a double-edged sword since it is responsible for both the beneficial graft-versus-tumor effect and the deleterious graft-versus-host disease. During the last two decades, intensive research has been focused on the development of novel immunotherapeutic methods aimed to dissociate graft-versus-host disease from graft-versus-tumor effect. A brief description of these efforts is discussed in this review.
Objectives: Patients with chronic graft-versus-host disease (cGVHD) often suffer from dry mouth and oral mucosal lesions. The primary objective of this study was to investigate the safety of an intra-oral electrostimulator (GenNarino) in symptomatic cGVHD patients. The secondary objective was to study the impact on the salivary gland involvement of cGVHD patients. Study Design: This paper presents a case series. The study included patients treated for 4 weeks, randomly assigned to the active device and then crossed-over to a sham-device or vice versa. The patients and clinicians were blind to the treatment delivered. Data regarding oral mucosal and salivary gland involvement were collected. Results: Six patients were included in this series. Most of the intraoral areas with manifestations of cGVHD were not in contact with the GenNarino device. Two patients developed mild mucosal lesions in areas in contact with the GenNarino during the study. However, only one of them had a change in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) score for oral cGVHD. The unstimulated and stimulated salivary flow rate increased in 4 out of the 5 patients included in this analysis. Symptoms of dry mouth and general oral comfort improved. Conclusion: This study suggests that GenNarino is safe in cGVHD patients with respect to oral tissues. Furthermore the use of GenNarino resulted in subjective and objective improvements in dry mouth symptoms. A large scale study is needed to confirm the impact and safety of GenNarino on systemic cGVHD.
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