Current paradigms of bone marrow failure (BMF) pathophysiology suggest that immune-mediated destruction of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) drives acquired aplastic anemia. In contrast, loss of HSPCs due to senescence and/or apoptosis causes BMF in inherited BMF syndromes. In this issue of the JCI, Casado and colleagues challenge this dichotomous conception by demonstrating that NK cell–dependent, immune-mediated hematopoietic suppression and HSPC clearance drive BMF in Fanconi anemia (FA). They show that genotoxic stress upregulates natural killer group 2 member D ligands (NKG2D-L) on FA HSPCs leading to NK cell cytotoxicity through NKG2D receptor activation. Inhibition of NKG2D–NKG2D-L interactions enhanced FA HSPC clonogenic potential and improved cytopenias in vivo. These results provide alternative targets for the development of immunosuppressive therapies to reduce HSPC loss and mitigate the risk of hematologic malignancies in FA.
Brian M. Dulmovits, Timothy S. Olson
NKG2D/NKG2D-L interactions lead to NK cell–mediated loss of HSPCs in FA.