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B and T lymphocyte attenuator mediates inhibition of tumor-reactive CD8+ T cells in patients after allogeneic stem cell transplantation.

By W.A. Hobo, W.J. Norde, N.P. Schaap, H. Fredrix, F. Maas, K. Schellens, J.H.F. Falkenburg, A.J. Korman, D. Olive, R. van der Voort and H. Dolstra

Abstract

Allogeneic stem cell transplantation (allo-SCT) can cure hematological malignancies by inducing alloreactive T cell responses targeting minor histocompatibility antigens (MiHA) expressed on malignant cells. Despite induction of robust MiHA-specific T cell responses and long-term persistence of alloreactive memory T cells specific for the tumor, often these T cells fail to respond efficiently to tumor relapse. Previously, we demonstrated the involvement of the coinhibitory receptor programmed death-1 (PD-1) in suppressing MiHA-specific CD8(+) T cell immunity. In this study, we investigated whether B and T lymphocyte attenuator (BTLA) plays a similar role in functional impairment of MiHA-specific T cells after allo-SCT. In addition to PD-1, we observed higher BTLA expression on MiHA-specific CD8(+) T cells compared with that of the total population of CD8(+) effector-memory T cells. In addition, BTLA's ligand, herpes virus entry mediator (HVEM), was found constitutively expressed by myeloid leukemia, B cell lymphoma, and multiple myeloma cells. Interference with the BTLA-HVEM pathway, using a BTLA blocking Ab, augmented proliferation of BTLA(+)PD-1(+) MiHA-specific CD8(+) T cells by HVEM-expressing dendritic cells. Notably, we demonstrated that blocking of BTLA or PD-1 enhanced ex vivo proliferation of MiHA-specific CD8(+) T cells in respectively 7 and 9 of 11 allo-SCT patients. Notably, in 3 of 11 patients, the effect of BTLA blockade was more prominent than that of PD-1 blockade. Furthermore, these expanded MiHA-specific CD8(+) T cells competently produced effector cytokines and degranulated upon Ag reencounter. Together, these results demonstrate that BTLA-HVEM interactions impair MiHA-specific T cell functionality, providing a rationale for interfering with BTLA signaling in post-stem cell transplantation therapies

Year: 2012
DOI identifier: 10.4049/jimmunol.1102807
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Provided by: NARCIS
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