Despite the curative potential of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), conditioning-associated toxicities preclude broader clinical application. Antibody-drug conjugates (ADC) provide an attractive approach to HSCT conditioning that minimizes toxicity while retaining efficacy. Initial studies of ADC conditioning have largely focused on syngeneic HSCT. However, to treat acute leukemias or induce tolerance for solid organ transplantation, this approach must be expanded to allogeneic HSCT (allo-HSCT). Using murine allo-HSCT models, we show that pharmacologic Janus kinase 1/2 (JAK1/2) inhibition combined with CD45- or cKit-targeted ADCs enables robust multilineage alloengraftment. Strikingly, myeloid lineage donor chimerism exceeding 99% was achievable in fully MHC-mismatched HSCT using this approach. Mechanistic studies using the JAK1/2 inhibitor baricitinib revealed marked impairment of T and NK cell survival, proliferation and effector function. NK cells were exquisitely sensitive to JAK1/2 inhibition due to interference with IL-15 signaling. Unlike irradiated mice, ADC-conditioned mice did not develop pathogenic graft-versus-host alloreactivity when challenged with mismatched T cells. Finally, the combination of ADCs and baricitinib balanced graft-versus-host disease and graft-versus-leukemia responses in delayed donor lymphocyte infusion models. Our allo-HSCT conditioning strategy exemplifies the promise of immunotherapy to improve the safety of HSCT for treating hematologic diseases.
Stephen P. Persaud, Julie K. Ritchey, Sena Kim, Sora Lim, Peter G. Ruminski, Matthew L. Cooper, Michael P. Rettig, Jaebok Choi, John F. DiPersio