Diabetes and Metabolism Research Institute and Hematologic Malignancies and Stem Cell Transplantation Institute, The Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope, Duarte, California, USA.
Address correspondence to: Defu Zeng, The Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope, 1500 East Duarte Road, Duarte, California 91010, USA. Phone: 626.218.3587; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
First published January 29, 2018 - More info
Acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) represents a severe, T cell–driven inflammatory complication following allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (allo-HCT). GVHD often affects the intestine and is associated with a poor prognosis. Although frequently detectable, proinflammatory mechanisms exerted by intestinal tissue–infiltrating Th cell subsets remain to be fully elucidated. Here, we show that the Th17-defining transcription factor basic leucine zipper transcription factor ATF-like (BATF) was strongly regulated across human and mouse intestinal GVHD tissues. Studies in complete MHC-mismatched and minor histocompatibility–mismatched (miHA-mismatched) GVHD models revealed that BATF-expressing T cells were functionally indispensable for intestinal GVHD manifestation. Mechanistically, BATF controlled the formation of colon-infiltrating, IL-7 receptor–positive (IL-7R+), granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor–positive (GM-CSF+), donor T effector memory (Tem) cells. This T cell subset was sufficient to promote intestinal GVHD, while its occurrence was largely dependent on T cell–intrinsic BATF expression, required IL-7–IL-7R interaction, and was enhanced by GM-CSF. Thus, this study identifies BATF-dependent pathogenic GM-CSF+ effector T cells as critical promoters of intestinal inflammation in GVHD and hence putatively provides mechanistic insight into inflammatory processes previously assumed to be selectively Th17 driven.
Evelyn Ullrich, Benjamin Abendroth, Johanna Rothamer, Carina Huber, Maike Büttner-Herold, Vera Buchele, Tina Vogler, Thomas Longerich, Sebastian Zundler, Simon Völkl, Andreas Beilhack, Stefan Rose-John, Stefan Wirtz, Georg F. Weber, Sakhila Ghimire, Marina Kreutz, Ernst Holler, Andreas Mackensen, Markus F. Neurath, Kai Hildner
Acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) in the gut is common following hematopoetic cell transplantation (HCT) and is associated with high mortality. However, it remains unclear whether Th1 or Th17 CD4+ T cells can initiate acute gut GVHD. In this issue of the JCI, Ullrich and colleagues identified a subset of CD4+ T cells that express high levels of IL-7Rα and granulocyte-macrophage CSF (IL-7RαhiGM-CSF+) cells that are involved in the induction of acute gut GVHD in murine models. The IL-7RαhiGM-CSF+ effector memory cells were BATF dependent, RORγt independent, produced large amounts of GM-CSF and IFN-γ, and released little IL-17. CD4+IL-7RαhiGM-CSF+ cells were not classical Th17 cells but had more of a Th1-like phenotype, despite their dependence on BATF. This work suggests that targeting the IL-7R/BATF/GM-CSF axis has therapeutic potential for treating acute gut GVHD.
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