Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 32818226
Link to DOI – 10.1182/bloodadvances.2019001032
Blood Adv 2020 Aug; 4(16): 3927-3942
The cellular and molecular processes involved in acute graft-versus-host disease (aGVHD) development early after allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) in humans remain largely unknown. We have performed multiparameter immunophenotyping and molecular profiling of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in 2 independent cohorts of patients undergoing HCT, as well as in their HLA-identical sibling donors. Cellular profiling using spectral flow cytometry showed an incomplete reconstitution of the T-cell compartment in recipients without aGVHD early after transplantation, as well as a shift toward an effector memory phenotype, paralleled by depletion of the naive T-cell pool. Molecular profiling of T-cell populations in donors vs recipients without aGVHD revealed increased pathway activity of >40 gene modules in recipients. These pathways were associated in particular with T-cell activation, adhesion, migration, and effector functions. Cellular profiles from recipients developing aGVHD displayed an enrichment of cells with a T memory stem cell-like phenotype compared with recipients without aGVHD. Comparison of gene profiles from these recipients revealed that transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) signaling was most significantly downregulated, whereas the pathway activity of NF-κB-associated transcription factors and signaling pathways were increased, at aGVHD onset. This study suggests that the integration of cellular and molecular profiles provides new insights into the development of aGVHD in humans.