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Transpl Immunol. 2011 Jan 15;24(2):83-93. doi: 10.1016/j.trim.2010.11.004. Epub 2010 Nov 9.

Innate immune activation by the viral PAMP poly I:C potentiates pulmonary graft-versus-host disease after allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplant.

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Department of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, 106 Research Drive, Building MSRB2 Room 2100B, Durham, NC 27710, USA.


Respiratory viral infections cause significant morbidity and increase the risk for chronic pulmonary graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) after hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT). Our overall hypothesis is that local innate immune activation potentiates adaptive alloimmunity. In this study, we hypothesized that a viral pathogen-associated molecular pattern (PAMP) alone can potentiate pulmonary GVHD after allogeneic HCT. We, therefore, examined the effect of pulmonary exposure to polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid (poly I:C), a viral mimetic that activates innate immunity, in an established murine HCT model. Poly I:C-induced a marked pulmonary T cell response in allogeneic HCT mice as compared to syngeneic HCT, with increased CD4+ cells in the lung fluid and tissue. This lymphocytic inflammation persisted at 2 weeks post poly I:C exposure in allogeneic mice and was associated with CD3+ cell infiltration into the bronchiolar epithelium and features of epithelial injury. In vitro, poly I:C enhanced allospecific proliferation in a mixed lymphocyte reaction. In vivo, poly I:C exposure was associated with an early increase in pulmonary monocyte recruitment and activation as well as a decrease in CD4+FOXP3+ regulatory T cells in allogeneic mice as compared to syngeneic. In contrast, intrapulmonary poly I:C did not alter the extent of systemic GVHD in either syngeneic or allogeneic mice. Collectively, our results suggest that local activation of pulmonary innate immunity by a viral molecular pattern represents a novel pathway that contributes to pulmonary GVHD after allogeneic HCT, through a mechanism that includes increased recruitment and maturation of intrapulmonary monocytes.

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