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Blood. 2010 Dec 9;116(24):5403-18. doi: 10.1182/blood-2010-06-289272. Epub 2010 Sep 10.

GVHD after haploidentical transplantation: a novel, MHC-defined rhesus macaque model identifies CD28- CD8+ T cells as a reservoir of breakthrough T-cell proliferation during costimulation blockade and sirolimus-based immunosuppression.

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Aflac Cancer Center and Blood Disorders Service, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, and Department of Pediatrics, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA, USA.


We have developed a major histocompatibility complex-defined primate model of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) and have determined the effect that CD28/CD40-directed costimulation blockade and sirolimus have on this disease. Severe GVHD developed after haploidentical transplantation without prophylaxis, characterized by rapid clinical decline and widespread T-cell infiltration and organ damage. Mechanistic analysis showed activation and possible counter-regulation, with rapid T-cell expansion and accumulation of CD8(+) and CD4(+) granzyme B(+) effector cells and FoxP3(pos)/CD27(high)/CD25(pos)/CD127(low) CD4(+) T cells. CD8(+) cells down-regulated CD127 and BCl-2 and up-regulated Ki-67, consistent with a highly activated, proliferative profile. A cytokine storm also occurred, with GVHD-specific secretion of interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra), IL-18, and CCL4. Costimulation Blockade and Sirolimus (CoBS) resulted in striking protection against GVHD. At the 30-day primary endpoint, CoBS-treated recipients showed 100% survival compared with no survival in untreated recipients. CoBS treatment resulted in survival, increasing from 11.6 to 62 days (P < .01) with blunting of T-cell expansion and activation. Some CoBS-treated animals did eventually develop GVHD, with both clinical and histopathologic evidence of smoldering disease. The reservoir of CoBS-resistant breakthrough immune activation included secretion of interferon-γ, IL-2, monocyte chemotactic protein-1, and IL-12/IL-23 and proliferation of cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated antigen 4 immunoglobulin-resistant CD28(-) CD8(+) T cells, suggesting adjuvant treatments targeting this subpopulation will be needed for full disease control.

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