Publications by authors named "Lee M Nadler"

69 Publications

Scale-up of the Accrual to Clinical Trials (ACT) network across the Clinical and Translational Science Award Consortium: a mixed-methods evaluation of the first 18 months.

J Clin Transl Sci 2020 Jun 30;4(6):515-528. Epub 2020 Jun 30.

Clinical and Translational Science Institute, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.

Introduction: The Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) Program is a Consortium of nearly 60 academic medical research centers across the USA and a natural network for evaluating the spread and uptake of translational research innovation across the Consortium.

Methods: Dissemination of the Accrual to Clinical Trials (ACT) Network, a federated clinical informatics data network for population-based cohort discovery, began January 2018 across the Consortium. Diffusion of innovation theory guided dissemination design and evaluation. Mixed-methods assessed the spread and uptake across the Consortium through July 1, 2019 (n = 48 CTSAs). Methods included prospective time activity tracking (Kaplan-Meier curves), and survey and qualitative interviews.

Results: Within 18 months, nearly 80% of CTSAs had joined the data network and two-thirds of CTSAs achieving technical readiness had initiated launch to local clinical investigators. Over 10,000 ACT Network queries are projected for 2019; and by 2020, nearly all CTSAs will have joined the network. Median time-from-technical-readiness-to-local-launch was 154 days (interquartile range: 87-225 days]. Quality improvement processes reduced time-to-launch by 35.2% (64 days, p = 0.0036). Lessons learned include: (1) conceptualize dissemination as two-stage adoption demonstrating value for both CTSA hub service providers and clinical investigators; (2) include institutional trial into dissemination strategies so CTSA hubs can refine internal workflows and gather local user feedback endorsement; (3) embrace designing-for-dissemination during technology development; and (4) sustain adaptive dissemination and customer relationship management to keep CTSA hubs and users engaged.

Conclusions: Scale-up and spread of the ACT Network provides lessons learned for others disseminating innovation across the CTSA Consortium. The Network is primed for embedded implementation research.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/cts.2020.505DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8057421PMC
June 2020

Development of a COVID-19 Application Ontology for the ACT Network.

medRxiv 2021 Mar 24. Epub 2021 Mar 24.

Clinical data networks that leverage large volumes of data in electronic health records (EHRs) are significant resources for research on coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Data harmonization is a key challenge in seamless use of multisite EHRs for COVID-19 research. We developed a COVID-19 application ontology in the national Accrual to Clinical Trials (ACT) network that enables harmonization of data elements that that are critical to COVID-19 research. The ontology contains over 50,000 concepts in the domains of diagnosis, procedures, medications, and laboratory tests. In particular, it has computational phenotypes to characterize the course of illness and outcomes, derived terms, and harmonized value sets for SARS-CoV-2 laboratory tests. The ontology was deployed and validated on the ACT COVID-19 network that consists of nine academic health centers with data on 14.5M patients. This ontology, which is freely available to the entire research community on GitHub at https://github.com/shyamvis/ACT-COVID-Ontology , will be useful for harmonizing EHRs for COVID-19 research beyond the ACT network.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2021.03.15.21253596DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8010766PMC
March 2021

Individual and cumulative health afflictions are associated with greater impairment in physical and mental function in former professional American style football players.

PM R 2021 Feb 28. Epub 2021 Feb 28.

Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Charlestown, Massachusetts, USA.

Background: Former American style football players (ASF players) have recognized health concerns associated with prior sport participation. It remains unknown whether categorizations of current health conditions, referred to in this report as afflictions (conceptually framed as neurocognitive, cardiovascular, cardiometabolic, sleep apnea, and chronic pain) are associated with physical and mental function.

Objective: To evaluate the association of afflictions to physical and mental function. It was hypothesized that former National Football League players with any affliction would have worse function compared to unafflicted participants. It was anticipated that multiple afflictions would result in cumulative loss of function.

Design: Cross-sectional retrospective design.

Setting: Academic medical multisite hospital system.

Participants: A total of 3913 of 15,611 former ASF players who played professionally from 1960 to 2019 (response rate 25%). Assessment of Risk Factors Self-report survey.

Main Outcome Measures: Each participant completed the Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) Global Health Scale and Physical Function questionnaires. Responses were used to generate two physical function and one mental function subscale scores. Raw scores were converted to T-scores categorized as impaired (T-score < 40) or unimpaired (T-score ≥ 40). Primary analyses measured the association of affliction to function (impaired or unimpaired).

Results: After adjusting for confounders (age, race, position, number of seasons, age of first exposure to football, alcohol use, smoking history, and current body mass index), each affliction was associated with reduced physical function on the Global physical function subscale (risk ratio [RR] = 1.23-2.45, all P < .005), physical function scale (RR = 1.24-2.75, all P < .01), and mental function scale (RR = 1.34-2.87, all P < .001), except that cardiovascular affliction was not associated with mental function (RR = 1.15, P = .15). The lowest functional measures were observed in those afflicted by chronic pain. Cumulative afflictions were associated with worse function.

Conclusions: Afflictions are associated with cumulative reduction of function. Research evaluating how afflictions interact may help elucidate mechanisms for illness and develop interventions to optimize function.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/pmrj.12581DOI Listing
February 2021

Self-Reported Cognitive Function and Mental Health Diagnoses among Former Professional American-Style Football Players.

J Neurotrauma 2020 04 10;37(8):1021-1028. Epub 2019 Dec 10.

Football Players' Health Study at Harvard University, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

Clinical practice strongly relies on patients' self-report. Former professional American-style football players are hesitant to seek help for mental health problems, but may be more willing to report cognitive symptoms. We sought to assess the association between cognitive symptoms and diagnosed mental health problems and quality of life among a cohort of former professional players. In a cross-sectional design, we assessed self-reported cognitive function using items from the Quality of Life in Neurological Disorders (Neuro-QOL) Item Bank. We then compared mental health diagnoses and quality of life, assessed by items from the Patient-Reported Outcome Measurement Information System (PROMIS), between former professional players reporting daily problems in cognitive function and former players not reporting daily cognitive problems. Of the 3758 former professional players included in the analysis, 40.0% reported daily problems due to cognitive dysfunction. Former players who reported daily cognitive problems were more likely to also report depression (18.0% vs. 3.3%, odds ratio [OR] = 6.42, 95% confidence interval [CI] [4.90-8.40]) and anxiety (19.1% vs. 4.3%, OR = 5.29, 95% CI [4.14-6.75]) than those without daily cognitive problems. Further, former players reporting daily cognitive problems were more likely to report memory loss and attention deficit(/hyperactivity) disorder and poorer general mental health, lower quality of life, less satisfaction with social activities and relationships, and more emotional problems. These findings highlight the potential of an assessment of cognitive symptoms for identifying former players with mental health, social, and emotional problems.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/neu.2019.6661DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7185350PMC
April 2020

Exposure to American Football and Neuropsychiatric Health in Former National Football League Players: Findings From the Football Players Health Study.

Am J Sports Med 2019 10 30;47(12):2871-2880. Epub 2019 Aug 30.

Investigation performed at Harvard Medical School and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Background: Former American football players have a higher prevalence of cognitive impairment than that of the US general population. It remains unknown what aspects of playing football are associated with neuropsychiatric outcomes.

Hypothesis: It was hypothesized that seasons of professional football, playing position, and experience of concussions were associated with cognition-related quality of life (QOL) and indicators of depression and anxiety.

Study Design: Descriptive epidemiology study.

Methods: The authors examined whether seasons of professional football, playing position, and experience of concussions, as measured by self-report of 10 symptoms, were associated with cognition-related QOL and indicators of depression and anxiety in a cross-sectional survey conducted 2015 to 2017. Cognition-related QOL was measured by the short form of the Quality of Life in Neurological Disorders: Applied Cognition-General Concerns. The Patient Health Questionnaire-4 measured depression and anxiety symptoms. Of 13,720 eligible men with apparently valid contact information, 3506 players returned a questionnaire at the time of this analysis (response rate = 25.6%).

Results: Seasons of professional play (risk ratio [RR] per 5 seasons = 1.19, 95% CI = 1.06-1.34) and playing position were associated with cognition-related QOL. Each 5 seasons of play was associated with 9% increased risk of indicators of depression at borderline statistical significance ( = .05). When compared with former kickers, punters, and quarterbacks, men who played any other position had a higher risk of poor cognition-related QOL, depression, and anxiety. Concussion symptoms were strongly associated with poor cognition-related QOL (highest concussion quartile, RR = 22.3, < .001), depression (highest quartile, RR = 6.0, < .0001), and anxiety (highest quartile, RR = 6.4, < .0001), even 20 years after last professional play.

Conclusion: The data suggest that seasons of play and playing position in the NFL are associated with lasting neuropsychiatric health deficits. Additionally, poor cognition-related QOL, depression, and anxiety appear to be associated with concussion in the long term.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0363546519868989DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7163246PMC
October 2019

Association of Concussion Symptoms With Testosterone Levels and Erectile Dysfunction in Former Professional US-Style Football Players.

JAMA Neurol 2019 Dec;76(12):1428-1438

Department of Environmental Health, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts.

Importance: Small studies suggest that head trauma in men may be associated with low testosterone levels and sexual dysfunction through mechanisms that likely include hypopituitarism secondary to ischemic injury and pituitary axonal tract damage. Athletes in contact sports may be at risk for pituitary insufficiencies or erectile dysfunction (ED) because of the high number of head traumas experienced during their careers. Whether multiple symptomatic concussive events are associated with later indicators of low testosterone levels and ED is unknown.

Objective: To explore the associations between concussion symptom history and participant-reported indicators of low testosterone levels and ED.

Design, Setting, And Participants: This cross-sectional study of former professional US-style football players was conducted in Boston, Massachusetts, from January 2015 to March 2017. Surveys on past football exposures, demographic factors, and current health conditions were sent via electronic and postal mail to participants within and outside of the United States. Analyses were conducted in Boston, Massachusetts; the data analysis began in March 2018 and additional analyses were performed through June 2019. Of the 13 720 male former players eligible to enroll who were contacted, 3506 (25.6%) responded.

Exposures: Concussion symptom score was calculated by summing the frequency with which participants reported 10 symptoms, such as loss of consciousness, disorientation, nausea, memory problems, and dizziness, at the time of football-related head injury.

Main Outcomes And Measures: Self-reported recommendations or prescriptions for low testosterone or ED medication served as indicators for testosterone insufficiency and ED.

Results: In 3409 former players (mean [SD] age, 52.5 [14.1] years), the prevalence of indicators of low testosterone levels and ED was 18.3% and 22.7%, respectively. The odds of reporting low testosterone levels or ED indicators were elevated for previously established risk factors (eg, diabetes, sleep apnea, and mood disorders). Models adjusted for demographic characteristics, football exposures, and current health factors showed a significant monotonically increasing association of concussion symptom score with the odds of reporting the low testosterone indicator (highest vs lowest quartile, odds ratio, 2.39; 95% CI, 1.79-3.19; P < .001). The ED indicator showed a similar association (highest quartile vs lowest, odds ratio, 1.72; 95% CI, 1.30-2.27; P < .001).

Conclusions And Relevance: Concussion symptoms at the time of injury among former football players were associated with current participant-reported low testosterone levels and ED indicators. These findings suggest that men with a history of head injury may benefit from discussions with their health care clinicians regarding testosterone deficiency and sexual dysfunction.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamaneurol.2019.2664DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6714010PMC
December 2019

The Football Players' Health Study at Harvard University: Design and objectives.

Am J Ind Med 2019 08 18;62(8):643-654. Epub 2019 Jun 18.

Football Players Health Study at Harvard University, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

The Football Players Health Study at Harvard University (FPHS) is a unique transdisciplinary, strategic initiative addressing the challenges of former players' health after having participated in American style football (ASF). The whole player focused FPHS is designed to deepen understanding of the benefits and risks of participation in ASF, identify risks that are potentially reversible or preventable, and develop interventions or approaches to improve the health and wellbeing of former players. We are recruiting and following a cohort of former professional ASF players who played since 1960 (current n = 3785). At baseline, participants complete a self-administered standardized questionnaire, including initial reporting of exposure history and physician-diagnosed health conditions. Additional arms of the initiative are addressing targeted studies, including promising primary, secondary, and tertiary interventions; extensive in-person clinical phenotyping, and legal and ethical concerns of the play. This paper describes the components of the FPHS studies undertaken and completed thus far, as well as those studies currently underway or planned for the near future. We present our initiatives herein as a potential paradigm of one way to proceed (acknowledging that it is not the only way). We share what we have learned so that it may be useful to others, particularly in regard to trying to make professional sports meet the needs of multiple stakeholders ranging from players to owners, to fans, and possibly even to parents making decisions for their children.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajim.22991DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6772014PMC
August 2019

Multisystem afflictions in former National Football League players.

Am J Ind Med 2019 08 27;62(8):655-662. Epub 2019 May 27.

Berenson-Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation and Division of Cognitive Neurology, Department of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

Background: The long-term health consequences of participation in American style football (ASF) are not well understood.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of men who had played in the NFL after 1960. Participants were studied using a standardized self-administered questionnaire designed to determine both the exposure history to ASF and the prevalence of chronic pain, sleep apnea, cardiometabolic disease, and neurocognitive impairment. Logistic regression and negative binomial regression models were used to assess associations between age, ethnicity, body-mass index during professional football career, field position, and football career duration with individual and multiple afflictions.

Results: In this cohort of former NFL players (n = 3745), approximately one quarter of the eligible former players (27%) reported two or more medical afflictions (chronic pain, cardiometabolic disease, sleep apnea, or neurocognitive impairment). Career duration was significantly associated with an increase in the number of comorbidities. Age, race, and body-mass index were associated with all affliction categories, other than neurocognitive impairment, which was similarly prevalent in middle-aged players and older players. Earlier age when first playing the sport was protective against cardiometabolic affliction.

Conclusions: Former NFL players report significant combinations of cross-system afflictions. Future work will be required to determine mechanistic underpinnings. However, attention to the whole player, rather than specific organ systems seems critical to improve long-term health outcomes in former ASF professional athletes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajim.22992DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6640629PMC
August 2019

Mortality Among Professional American-Style Football Players and Professional American Baseball Players.

JAMA Netw Open 2019 05 3;2(5):e194223. Epub 2019 May 3.

Department of Environmental Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts.

Importance: Studies of American-style football players have suggested lower overall mortality rates compared with general populations, but with possibly increased neurodegenerative mortality. However, comparisons with general populations can introduce bias. This study compared mortality between US National Football League (NFL) and US Major League Baseball (MLB) players, a more appropriate comparison group of professional athletes.

Objective: To compare all-cause and cause-specific mortality between NFL and MLB players.

Design, Setting, And Participants: In this retrospective cohort study, the setting was US mortality from January 1, 1979, through December 31, 2013. The dates of analysis were January 2016 to April 2019. Participants were 3419 NFL and 2708 MLB players with at least 5 playing seasons.

Exposures: Participation in the NFL compared with the MLB.

Main Outcomes And Measures: Vital status and causes of death from the National Death Index from 1979 through 2013 were obtained. Cox proportional hazards regression models using age as the timescale were used to calculate hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% CIs to examine all-cause and cause-specific mortality among NFL players compared with MLB players, adjusted for race and decade of birth.

Results: By the end of follow-up, there were 517 deaths (mean [SD] age, 59.6 [13.2] years) in the NFL cohort and 431 deaths (mean [SD] age, 66.7 [12.3] years) in the MLB cohort. Cardiovascular and neurodegenerative conditions, respectively, were noted as underlying or contributing causes in 498 and 39 deaths in the NFL and 225 and 16 deaths in the MLB. Compared with MLB players, NFL players had significantly elevated rates of all-cause (HR, 1.26; 95% CI, 1.10-1.44), cardiovascular disease (HR, 2.40; 95% CI, 2.03-2.84), and neurodegenerative disease (HR, 2.99; 95% CI, 1.64-5.45) mortality. Comparing hypothetical populations of 1000 NFL and 1000 MLB players followed up to age 75 years, there would be an excess 21 all-cause deaths among NFL players, as well as 77 and 11 more deaths with underlying or contributing causes that included cardiovascular and neurodegenerative conditions, respectively.

Conclusions And Relevance: This study found that NFL players had elevated all-cause, cardiovascular, and neurodegenerative mortality rates compared with MLB players, although the absolute number of excess neurodegenerative deaths was still small. Factors that vary across these sports (eg, body habitus and head trauma) as opposed to those common across sports (eg, physical activity) could underlie the differences.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.4223DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6632140PMC
May 2019

Accrual to Clinical Trials (ACT): A Clinical and Translational Science Award Consortium Network.

JAMIA Open 2018 Oct 21;1(2):147-152. Epub 2018 Aug 21.

The Clinical and Translational Science Institute, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.

The Accrual to Clinical Trials (ACT) network is a federated network of sites from the National Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) Consortium that has been created to significantly increase participant accrual to multi-site clinical trials. The ACT network represents an unprecedented collaboration among diverse CTSA sites. The network has created governance and regulatory frameworks and a common data model to harmonize electronic health record (EHR) data, and deployed a set of Informatics for Integrating Biology and the Bedside (i2b2) data repositories that are linked by the Shared Health Research Information Network (SHRINE) platform. It provides investigators the ability to query the network in real time and to obtain aggregate counts of patients who meet clinical trial inclusion and exclusion criteria from sites across the United States. The ACT network infrastructure provides a basis for cohort discovery and for developing new informatics tools to identify and recruit participants for multi-site clinical trials.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jamiaopen/ooy033DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6241502PMC
October 2018

Relation of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tears to Potential Chronic Cardiovascular diseases.

Am J Cardiol 2018 12 7;122(11):1879-1884. Epub 2018 Sep 7.

Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts; Department of Environmental Health and Epidemiology, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts. Electronic address:

We have enrolled a cohort of former National Football League players (n = 3,506) who played since 1960 to assess potential long term health consequences associated with participating in the sport. Each participant has completed a self-administered questionnaire including reporting of physician-diagnosed health conditions. One of the early assessments was to evaluate whether anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears were associated with later life co-morbidities, including cardiovascular effects. We used Cox proportional hazards to estimate hazard ratios (HR) for joint replacement surgeries, myocardial infarction, sleep apnea, arthritis, dementia, and stroke by history of ACL tear during their professional career. For additional outcomes without date of occurrence reported we used logistic regression to estimate odds ratios adjusted for potential confounding variables in all models. After adjusting for covariates, former National Football League players who tore their ACL had approximately a twofold increase in muscular skeletal co-morbidities, including knee joint replacement and arthritis, compared with those without ACL tears. In addition, those with a history of ACL tears also had more than a 50% increased risk of myocardial infarction (HR 1.52; 95% confidence interval 0.97 to 2.38) and a slight increase in sleep apnea (HR 1.15; 95% confidence interval 0.96 to 1.38). ACL tears sustained by athletes may increase the risk of co-morbidities beyond the musculoskeletal system. As there are more than 100,000 ACL reconstructions annually in the United States, our findings could have widespread public health importance if these findings generalize to a population beyond professional football players. In conclusion, enhanced screening for other risk factors for these conditions in patients who have torn their ACL might identify those who could most benefit from prevention strategies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.amjcard.2018.08.030DOI Listing
December 2018

Infusion of Alloanergized Donor Lymphocytes after CD34-selected Haploidentical Myeloablative Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation.

Clin Cancer Res 2018 09 16;24(17):4098-4109. Epub 2018 May 16.

Radiation Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts.

Allogeneic hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (HSCT) is a curative treatment for many hematologic cancers. Use of haploidentical (mismatched) donors increases HSCT availability but is limited by severe graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) and delayed immune reconstitution. Alloanergization of donor T cells is a simple approach to rebuild immunity while limiting GvHD after haploidentical HSCT, but the optimal T-cell dose and impact on immune reconstitution remain unknown. We performed a multicenter phase I trial of alloanergized donor lymphocyte infusion (aDLI) after CD34-selected myeloablative haploidentical HSCT. The primary aim was feasibility and safety with secondary aims of assessing the less frequently addressed issue of impact on immune reconstitution. Nineteen patients with high-risk acute leukemia or myelodysplasia were enrolled. Engraftment occurred in 18 of 19 patients (95%). Pre-aDLI, 12 patients (63%) had bacteremia, nine of 17 at-risk patients (53%) reactivated CMV, and one developed acute GvHD. Sixteen patients received aDLI at dose levels 1 (10 T cells/kg, = 4), 2 (10, = 8), and 3 (10, = 4). After aDLI, five patients developed clinically significant acute GvHD, and four of 14 at-risk patients (29%) reactivated CMV. T-cell recovery was significantly greater, and functional virus- and tumor-associated antigen-specific T cells were detectable earlier in patients receiving dose level 2 or 3 versus dose level 1/no aDLI. Alloanergization of donor cells expanded the CD4 T-regulatory cell frequency within aDLI, which increased further without impeding expansion of virus- and tumor-associated antigen-specific T cells. These data demonstrate safety and a potential role for aDLI in contributing to immune reconstitution and expanding tolerogenic regulatory T cells after CD34-selected myeloablative haploidentical HSCT. .
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-18-0449DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6125184PMC
September 2018

American-Style Football and Cardiovascular Health.

J Am Heart Assoc 2018 04 4;7(8). Epub 2018 Apr 4.

Cardiovascular Performance Program, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/JAHA.118.008620DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6015395PMC
April 2018

Ex vivo alloanergization with belatacept: a strategy to selectively modulate alloresponses after transplantation.

Cell Transplant 2012 10;21(9):2047-61. Epub 2012 Apr 10.

Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

Ex vivo alloanergization of human immune cells, via allostimulation in the presence of costimulatory blockade with either a combination of anti-B7.1 and anti-B7.2 antibodies or first-generation cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen 4-immunoglobulin (CTLA4-Ig), induces alloantigen-specific hyporesponsiveness and expands alloantigen-specific regulatory T cells (Treg). We have successfully used this approach in the clinical setting of haploidentical hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Recently, the in vivo use of a new second-generation CTLA4-Ig, belatacept, has shown promise in controlling alloresponses after transplantation of both human kidneys and islet cells. We therefore compared the efficiency of first- and second-generation CTLA4-Ig in alloanergizing human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and investigated whether ex vivo alloanergization with belatacept could be used to engineer an alloantigen-specific immunoregulatory population of autologous cells suitable for administration to recipients of cellular or solid organ transplant recipients. Alloanergization of HLA-mismatched human PBMCs with belatacept resulted in a greater reduction in subsequent alloresponses than alloanergization with first generation CTLA4-Ig. Moreover, subsequent ex vivo re-exposure of alloanergized cells to alloantigen in the absence of belatacept resulted in a significant expansion of Tregs with enhanced alloantigen-specific suppressive function. Alloanergized PBMCs retained functional Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-specific T-cell responses, and expanded Tregs did not suppress EBV-specific proliferation of autologous cells. These results suggest that ex vivo alloanergization with belatacept provides a platform to engineer populations of recipient Treg with specificity for donor alloantigens but without nonspecific suppressive capacity. The potential advantages of such cells for solid organ transplantation include (1) reduction of the need for nonspecific immunosuppression, (2) retention of pathogen-specific immunity, and (3) control of graft rejection, if used as an intervention.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3727/096368912X637479DOI Listing
December 2013

Ex vivo expansion of human CD8+ T cells using autologous CD4+ T cell help.

PLoS One 2012 12;7(1):e30229. Epub 2012 Jan 12.

Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Massachusetts, United States of America.

Background: Using in vivo mouse models, the mechanisms of CD4+ T cell help have been intensively investigated. However, a mechanistic analysis of human CD4+ T cell help is largely lacking. Our goal was to elucidate the mechanisms of human CD4+ T cell help of CD8+ T cell proliferation using a novel in vitro model.

Methods/principal Findings: We developed a genetically engineered novel human cell-based artificial APC, aAPC/mOKT3, which expresses a membranous form of the anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody OKT3 as well as other immune accessory molecules. Without requiring the addition of allogeneic feeder cells, aAPC/mOKT3 enabled the expansion of both peripheral and tumor-infiltrating T cells, regardless of HLA-restriction. Stimulation with aAPC/mOKT3 did not expand Foxp3+ regulatory T cells, and expanded tumor infiltrating lymphocytes predominantly secreted Th1-type cytokines, interferon-γ and IL-2. In this aAPC-based system, the presence of autologous CD4+ T cells was associated with significantly improved CD8+ T cell expansion in vitro. The CD4+ T cell derived cytokines IL-2 and IL-21 were necessary but not sufficient for this effect. However, CD4+ T cell help of CD8+ T cell proliferation was partially recapitulated by both adding IL-2/IL-21 and by upregulation of IL-21 receptor on CD8+ T cells.

Conclusions: We have developed an in vitro model that advances our understanding of the immunobiology of human CD4+ T cell help of CD8+ T cells. Our data suggests that human CD4+ T cell help can be leveraged to expand CD8+ T cells in vitro.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0030229PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257268PMC
July 2012

IL-21 can supplement suboptimal Lck-independent MAPK activation in a STAT-3-dependent manner in human CD8(+) T cells.

J Immunol 2012 Feb 11;188(4):1609-19. Epub 2012 Jan 11.

Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA 02215, USA.

Although both MHC class II/CD8α double-knockout and CD8β null mice show a defect in the development of MHC class I-restricted CD8(+) T cells in the thymus, they possess low numbers of high-avidity peripheral CTL with limited clonality and are able to contain acute and chronic infections. These in vivo data suggest that the CD8 coreceptor is not absolutely necessary for the generation of Ag-specific CTL. Lack of CD8 association causes partial TCR signaling because of the absence of CD8/Lck recruitment to the proximity of the MHC/TCR complex, resulting in suboptimal MAPK activation. Therefore, there should exist a signaling mechanism that can supplement partial TCR activation caused by the lack of CD8 association. In this human study, we have shown that CD8-independent stimulation of Ag-specific CTL previously primed in the presence of CD8 coligation, either in vivo or in vitro, induced severely impaired in vitro proliferation. When naive CD8(+) T cells were primed in the absence of CD8 binding and subsequently restimulated in the presence of CD8 coligation, the proliferation of Ag-specific CTL was also severely hampered. However, when CD8-independent T cell priming and restimulation were supplemented with IL-21, Ag-specific CD8(+) CTL expanded in two of six individuals tested. We found that IL-21 rescued partial MAPK activation in a STAT3- but not STAT1-dependent manner. These results suggest that CD8 coligation is critical for the expansion of postthymic peripheral Ag-specific CTL in humans. However, STAT3-mediated IL-21 signaling can supplement partial TCR signaling caused by the lack of CD8 association.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.1003446DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3273545PMC
February 2012

Induction of HLA-DP4-restricted anti-survivin Th1 and Th2 responses using an artificial antigen-presenting cell.

Clin Cancer Res 2011 Aug 24;17(16):5392-401. Epub 2011 Jun 24.

Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, USA.

Purpose: In previous cancer vaccine clinical trials targeting survivin, induction of specific CD8(+) T-cell responses did not consistently lead to clinical responses. Considering the critical role of CD4(+) T-cell help in generating antitumor immunity, integration of anti-survivin CD4(+) T-cell responses may enhance the efficacy of anti-survivin cancer immunotherapy. Human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-DP4 is emerging as an attractive MHC target allele of CD4(+) T cell-mediated immunotherapy, because it is one of the most frequent HLA alleles in many ethnic groups. In this article, we aimed to elucidate DP4-restricted CD4(+) T-cell responses against survivin in cancer patients.

Experimental Design: We generated a human cell-based artificial antigen-presenting cell (aAPC) expressing HLA-DP4, CD80, and CD83 and induced DP4-restricted antigen-specific CD4(+) T cells. The number, phenotype, effector function, and in vitro longevity of generated CD4(+) T cells were determined.

Results: We first determined previously unknown DP4-restricted CD4(+) T-cell epitopes derived from cytomegalovirus pp65, to which sustained Th1-biased recall responses were induced in vitro by using DP4-aAPC. In contrast, DP4-aAPC induced in vitro both Th1 and Th2 long-lived anti-survivin CD4(+) T cells from cancer patients. Both survivin-specific Th1 and Th2 cells were able to recognize survivin-expressing tumors in a DP4-restricted manner. Neither survivin-specific interleukin 10 secreting Tr1 cells nor Th17 cells were induced by DP4-aAPC.

Conclusions: DP4-restricted anti-survivin Th1 and Th2 immunity with sufficient functional avidity can be induced from cancer patients. The development of strategies to concurrently induce both CD4(+) and CD8(+) T-cell responses against survivin is warranted for optimal anti-survivin cancer immunotherapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-10-3083DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3156899PMC
August 2011

Aberrant expression of functional BAFF-system receptors by malignant B-cell precursors impacts leukemia cell survival.

PLoS One 2011 8;6(6):e20787. Epub 2011 Jun 8.

Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.

Despite exhibiting oncogenic events, patient's leukemia cells are responsive and dependent on signals from their malignant bone marrow (BM) microenvironment, which modulate their survival, cell cycle progression, trafficking and resistance to chemotherapy. Identification of the signaling pathways mediating this leukemia/microenvironment interplay is critical for the development of novel molecular targeted therapies.We observed that primary leukemia B-cell precursors aberrantly express receptors of the BAFF-system, BAFF-R, BCMA, and TACI. These receptors are functional as their ligation triggers activation of NF-κB, MAPK/JNK, and Akt signaling. Leukemia cells express surface BAFF and APRIL ligands, and soluble BAFF is significantly higher in leukemia patients in comparison to age-matched controls. Interestingly, leukemia cells also express surface APRIL, which seems to be encoded by APRIL-δ, a novel isoform that lacks the furin convertase domain. Importantly, we observed BM microenvironmental cells express the ligands BAFF and APRIL, including surface and secreted BAFF by BM endothelial cells. Functional studies showed that signals through BAFF-system receptors impact the survival and basal proliferation of leukemia B-cell precursors, and support the involvement of both homotypic and heterotypic mechanisms.This study shows an unforeseen role for the BAFF-system in the biology of precursor B-cell leukemia, and suggests that the target disruption of BAFF signals may constitute a valid strategy for the treatment of this cancer.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0020787PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3110793PMC
October 2011

Establishment of antitumor memory in humans using in vitro-educated CD8+ T cells.

Sci Transl Med 2011 Apr;3(80):80ra34

Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, 450 Brookline Avenue, Boston, MA 02215, USA.

Although advanced-stage melanoma patients have a median survival of less than a year, adoptive T cell therapy can induce durable clinical responses in some patients. Successful adoptive T cell therapy to treat cancer requires engraftment of antitumor T lymphocytes that not only retain specificity and function in vivo but also display an intrinsic capacity to survive. To date, adoptively transferred antitumor CD8(+) T lymphocytes (CTLs) have had limited life spans unless the host has been manipulated. To generate CTLs that have an intrinsic capacity to persist in vivo, we developed a human artificial antigen-presenting cell system that can educate antitumor CTLs to acquire both a central memory and an effector memory phenotype as well as the capacity to survive in culture for prolonged periods of time. We examined whether antitumor CTLs generated using this system could function and persist in patients. We showed that MART1-specific CTLs, educated and expanded using our artificial antigen-presenting cell system, could survive for prolonged periods in advanced-stage melanoma patients without previous conditioning or cytokine treatment. Moreover, these CTLs trafficked to the tumor, mediated biological and clinical responses, and established antitumor immunologic memory. Therefore, this approach may broaden the availability of adoptive cell therapy to patients both alone and in combination with other therapeutic modalities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/scitranslmed.3002207DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3861895PMC
April 2011

Induction of alloantigen-specific anergy in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells by alloantigen stimulation with co-stimulatory signal blockade.

J Vis Exp 2011 Mar 14(49). Epub 2011 Mar 14.

Medical Oncology, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, USA.

Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (AHSCT) offers the best chance of cure for many patients with congenital and acquired hematologic diseases. Unfortunately, transplantation of alloreactive donor T cells which recognize and damage healthy patient tissues can result in Graft-versus-Host Disease (GvHD). One challenge to successful AHSCT is the prevention of GvHD without associated impairment of the beneficial effects of donor T cells, particularly immune reconstitution and prevention of relapse. GvHD can be prevented by non-specific depletion of donor T cells from stem cell grafts or by administration of pharmacological immunosuppression. Unfortunately these approaches increase infection and disease relapse. An alternative strategy is to selectively deplete alloreactive donor T cells after allostimulation by recipient antigen presenting cells (APC) before transplant. Early clinical trials of these allodepletion strategies improved immune reconstitution after HLA-mismatched HSCT without excess GvHD. However, some allodepletion techniques require specialized recipient APC production and some approaches may have off-target effects including depletion of donor pathogen-specific T cells and CD4 T regulatory cells .One alternative approach is the inactivation of alloreactive donor T cells via induction of alloantigen-specific hyporesponsiveness. This is achieved by stimulating donor cells with recipient APC while providing blockade of CD28-mediated co-stimulation signals.This "alloanergization" approach reduces alloreactivity by 1-2 logs while preserving pathogen- and tumor-associated antigen T cell responses in vitro. The strategy has been successfully employed in 2 completed and 1 ongoing clinical pilot studies in which alloanergized donor T cells were infused during or after HLA-mismatched HSCT resulting in rapid immune reconstitution, few infections and less severe acute and chronic GvHD than historical control recipients of unmanipulated HLA-mismatched transplantation. Here we describe our current protocol for the generation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) which have been alloanergized to HLA-mismatched unrelated stimulator PBMC. Alloanergization is achieved by allostimulation in the presence of monoclonal antibodies to the ligands B7.1 and B7.1 to block CD28-mediated costimulation. This technique does not require the production of specialized stimulator APC and is simple to perform, requiring only a single and relatively brief ex vivo incubation step. As such, the approach can be easily standardized for clinical use to generate donor T cells with reduced alloreactivity but retaining pathogen-specific immunity for adoptive transfer in the setting of AHSCT to improve immune reconstitution without excessive GvHD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3791/2673DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3197423PMC
March 2011

Targeting of active mTOR inhibits primary leukemia T cells and synergizes with cytotoxic drugs and signaling inhibitors.

Exp Hematol 2011 Apr 26;39(4):457-472.e3. Epub 2011 Jan 26.

Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass., USA.

Objective: Rationally designed therapies aim at the specific disruption of critical signaling pathways activated by malignant transformation or signals from the tumor microenvironment. Because mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is an important signal integrator and a key translational regulator, we evaluated its potential involvement in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) and whether mTOR blockade synergizes with chemotherapeutic agents or other signaling antagonists to inhibit primary leukemia T cells.

Materials And Methods: mTOR signaling status was assessed using biochemical, immunostaining, and molecular regulation studies and functional assays performed to assess the impact of mTOR blockade on T-ALL proliferation, survival, and cell cycle.

Results: We observed that mTOR signaling is highly activated in all T-ALL patients tested, with phosphorylation of its downstream substrates eIF4G and S6 ribosomal protein. mTOR activation was detected in vivo and was further increased in vitro by stimulation with interleukin-7, a potentially leukemogenic cytokine normally produced by the bone marrow microenvironment. In T-ALL cells, mTOR blockade was associated with accumulation of the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p27(kip1), which preferentially adopted a nuclear localization. Functional studies using rapamycin or CCI-779 showed a dominant inhibitory effect of mTOR blockade on interleukin-7-induced proliferation, survival, and cell-cycle progression of T-ALL cells. Furthermore, mTOR blockade markedly potentiated the antileukemia effects of dexamethasone and doxorubicin, and showed highly synergistic interactions in combination with specific inhibitors of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt and Janus kinase 3 signaling.

Conclusions: This study shows activation of mTOR signaling in primary T-ALL cells evolving in the leukemic bone marrow, and supports the inclusion of mTOR antagonists in current therapeutic regimens for this cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.exphem.2011.01.005DOI Listing
April 2011

A phase III study of anti-B4-blocked ricin as adjuvant therapy post-autologous bone marrow transplant: CALGB 9254.

Leuk Lymphoma 2011 Apr 28;52(4):587-96. Epub 2011 Jan 28.

Center for Lymphoma and Myeloma, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY 10065, USA.

Anti-B4-blocked ricin (anti-B4-bR) is a potent immunotoxin directed against the CD19 antigen. Previous phase I and II studies suggested a possible role for anti-B4-bR as consolidation after high-dose chemotherapy and autologous stem cell transplant. Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB) 9254 is a phase III study which randomized 157 patients with B-cell lymphoma in complete remission following autologous transplant to treatment with anti-B4-bR or observation. With a median follow-up time for patients of 5.8 years, the median event-free survival for protocol treatment and observation are 2.1 and 2.9 years, respectively (p = 0.275). The median overall survival for treatment and observation are 6.1 years and not reached, respectively (p = 0.063). Therefore, no differences were found in event-free survival and overall survival between protocol treatment and observation, although there was a trend toward improved survival with observation. These data fail to support a role for anti-B4-bR as consolidative therapy after bone marrow transplant in patients with B-cell lymphoma.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3109/10428194.2010.543714DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3682835PMC
April 2011

A panel of human cell-based artificial APC enables the expansion of long-lived antigen-specific CD4+ T cells restricted by prevalent HLA-DR alleles.

Int Immunol 2010 Nov 8;22(11):863-73. Epub 2010 Nov 8.

Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, 44 Binney Street, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

Many preclinical experiments have attested to the critical role of CD4(+) T cell help in CD8(+) cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL)-mediated immunity. Recent clinical trials have demonstrated that reinfusion of CD4(+) T cells can induce responses in infectious diseases and cancer. However, few standardized and versatile systems exist to expand antigen-specific CD4(+) T(h) for clinical use. K562 is a human erythroleukemic cell line, which lacks expression of HLA class I and class II, invariant chain and HLA-DM but expresses adhesion molecules such as intercellular adhesion molecule-1 and leukocyte function-associated antigen-3. With this unique immunologic phenotype, K562 has been tested in clinical trials of cancer immunotherapy. Previously, we created a K562-based artificial antigen-presenting cell (aAPC) that generates ex vivo long-lived HLA-A2-restricted CD8(+) CTL with a central/effector memory phenotype armed with potent effector function. We successfully generated a clinical version of this aAPC and conducted a clinical trial where large numbers of anti-tumor CTL are reinfused to cancer patients. In this article, we shifted focus to CD4(+) T cells and developed a panel of novel K562-derived aAPC, where each expresses a different single HLA-DR allele, invariant chain, HLA-DM, CD80, CD83 and CD64; takes up soluble protein by endocytosis and processes and presents CD4(+) T-cell peptides. Using this aAPC, we were able to determine novel DR-restricted CD4(+) T-cell epitopes and expand long-lived CD4(+) T-cells specific for multiple antigens without growing bystander Foxp3(+) regulatory T cells. Our results suggest that K562-based aAPC may serve as a translatable platform to generate both antigen-specific CD8(+) CTL and CD4(+) T(h).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/intimm/dxq440DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2994545PMC
November 2010

Combining CD19 redirection and alloanergization to generate tumor-specific human T cells for allogeneic cell therapy of B-cell malignancies.

Cancer Res 2010 May 27;70(10):3915-24. Epub 2010 Apr 27.

Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Allogeneic hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation can cure some patients with high-risk B-cell malignancies, but disease relapse following transplantation remains a significant problem. One approach that could be used to augment the donor T-cell-mediated antitumor effect is the infusion of allogeneic donor-derived T cells expressing a chimeric antibody receptor (CAR) specific to the B-cell antigen CD19. However, the use of such cells might result in toxicity in the form of graft-versus-host disease mediated by CD19-specific (CD19-CAR) T cells possessing alloreactive endogenous T-cell receptors. We therefore investigated whether nonalloreactive tumor-specific human T cells could be generated from peripheral blood mononuclear cells of healthy donors by the combination of CD19 redirection via CAR expression and subsequent alloanergization by allostimulation and concomitant blockade of CD28-mediated costimulation. Alloanergization of CD19-CAR T cells resulted in efficient and selective reduction of alloresponses in both CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells, including allospecific proliferation and cytokine secretion. Importantly, T-cell effector functions including CAR-dependent proliferation and specific target cytolysis and cytokine production were retained after alloanergization. Our data support the application of CD19 redirection and subsequent alloanergization to generate allogeneic donor T cells for clinical use possessing increased antitumor activity but limited capacity to mediate graft-versus-host disease. Immunotherapy with such cells could potentially reduce disease relapse after allogeneic transplantation without increasing toxicity, thereby improving the outcome of patients undergoing allogeneic transplantation for high-risk B-cell malignancies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-3845DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2873153PMC
May 2010

Expansion of allospecific regulatory T cells after anergized, mismatched bone marrow transplantation.

Sci Transl Med 2009 Oct;1(1):1ra3

Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, 44 Binney Street, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

Transplantation of hematopoietic stem cells from healthy donors can cure patients with many diseases. Donor T cells can protect against recurrence of infection and disease, but some of these (alloreactive) T cells recognize patient tissues as foreign, causing graft-versus-host disease. Removing T cells from donor grafts before transplantation reduces graft-versus-host disease but increases infection and disease recurrence. Inactivation of alloreactive T cells by inducing tolerance to patient cells (anergization) before transplantation preserves beneficial donor T cell effects while reducing graft-versus-host disease. We show that this approach also results in expansion of regulatory T cells that specifically suppress alloreactive donor T cell responses in the recipient. In addition to reducing graft-versus-host disease, antigen-specific regulatory T cells generated with this strategy could suppress unwanted T cell responses that cause rejection of solid organ transplants and tissue damage in autoimmune disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/scitranslmed.3000153DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3225049PMC
October 2009

Cyclin D1-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes are present in the repertoire of cancer patients: implications for cancer immunotherapy.

Clin Cancer Res 2008 Oct;14(20):6574-9

1st Department of Internal Medicine, Max-Eder-Nachwuchsgruppe der Deutschen Krebshilfe, University Hospital of Cologne, Cologne, Germany.

Purpose: Cyclin D1, a key cell cycle regulator, is overexpressed in multiple types of cancer. Such tumor-associated genes may be useful targets for cancer immunotherapy. Nevertheless, it had previously been suggested that efficient T cells recognizing cyclin D1-derived epitopes are absent from the repertoire because of thymic deletion. We attempted to induce autologous CTL from healthy donors and patients with cyclin D1-overexpressing tumors using a highly efficient T-cell expansion system based on CD40-activated B cells as antigen-presenting cells.

Experimental Design: Cyclin D1-derived, HLA-A*0201-restricted epitopes were predicted by multiple computer algorithms, screened in HLA-A2-binding assays, and used for T-cell stimulation. The generated CTL lines and clones were analyzed by IFN-gamma enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot assay or cytolysis assay.

Results: After screening, at least two naturally processed and presented HLA-A*0201-binding cyclin D1 epitopes were identified. CTL specific for these epitopes could be successfully generated from HLA-A2(+) donors. T cells efficiently recognized target cells pulsed with the cognate peptide and cyclin D1-expressing tumor cell lines in an HLA-A*0201-restricted manner. More importantly, HLA-A*0201-matched, primary cyclin D1(+) tumor cells were efficiently recognized by cyclin D1-specific CTL. These CTL could be generated from patients with mantle cell lymphoma and cyclin D1(+) colon cancer.

Conclusions: These results underscore that cyclin D1 needs to be considered as a target for broad-based antitumor immunotherapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-08-0825DOI Listing
October 2008

Dissociation of its opposing immunologic effects is critical for the optimization of antitumor CD8+ T-cell responses induced by interleukin 21.

Clin Cancer Res 2008 Oct;14(19):6125-36

Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, 44 Binney Street, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

Purpose: Interleukin 21 (IL-21) is a promising new cytokine, which is undergoing clinical testing as an anticancer agent. Although IL-21 provides potent stimulation of CD8(+) T cells, it has also been suggested that IL-21 is immunosuppressive by counteracting the maturation of dendritic cells. The dissociation of these two opposing effects may enhance the utility of IL-21 as an immunotherapeutic. In this study, we used a cell-based artificial antigen-presenting cell (aAPC) lacking a functional IL-21 receptor (IL-21R) to investigate the immunostimulatory properties of IL-21.

Experimental Design: The immunosuppressive activity of IL-21 was studied using human IL-21R(+) dendritic cells. Antigen-specific CD8(+) T cells stimulated with human cell-based IL-21R(-)aAPC were used to isolate the T-cell immunostimulatory effects of IL-21. The functional outcomes, including phenotype, cytokine production, proliferation, and cytotoxicity were evaluated.

Results: IL-21 limits the immune response by maintaining immunologically immature dendritic cells. However, stimulation of CD8(+) T cells with IL-21R(-) aAPC, which secrete IL-21, results in significant expansion. Although priming in the presence of IL-21 temporarily modulated the T-cell phenotype, chronic stimulation abrogated these differences. Importantly, exposure to IL-21 during restimulation promoted the enrichment and expansion of antigen-specific CD8(+) T cells that maintained IL-2 secretion and gained enhanced IFN-gamma secretion. Tumor antigen-specific CTL generated in the presence of IL-21 recognized tumor cells efficiently, demonstrating potent effector functions.

Conclusions: IL-21 induces opposing effects on antigen-presenting cells and CD8(+) T cells. Strategic application of IL-21 is required to induce optimal clinical effects and may enable the generation of large numbers of highly avid tumor-specific CTL for adoptive immunotherapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-08-1146DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2570356PMC
October 2008

Induction of alloanergy in human donor T cells without loss of pathogen or tumor immunity.

Transplantation 2008 Sep;86(6):854-64

Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

Background: Human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-mismatched allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is limited by acute graft-versus-host disease (aGvHD). Nonselective T-cell depletion effectively prevents severe aGvHD but profoundly impairs donor-derived immune reconstitution, increasing infection and disease relapse. The strategy of induction of alloantigen-specific hyporesponsiveness ("alloanergization") in donor bone marrow by allostimulation with costimulatory blockade before haploidentical transplantation has demonstrated early promise in reducing severe aGvHD. However, the differential effect of alloanergization on CD4+ and CD8+ donor T-cell subsets and the degree to which beneficial pathogen- and tumor-immune responses are retained have not been extensively examined.

Methods: We used an in vitro model of alloanergization by allostimulation of human donor T cells with irradiated unrelated recipient peripheral blood mononuclear cells and costimulatory blockade with humanized monoclonal anti-B7.1 and B7.2 antibodies. Residual alloresponses were assessed by proliferation (thymidine uptake, carboxyfluorescein diacetate succinimidyl ester dye dilution) and cytotoxicity assays. Retention of human herpes virus and tumor-associated antigen (TAA)-specific immunity was measured with HLA-class I-restricted pentamers, intracellular cytokine secretion, and CD107a assay using 5-color flow cytometry.

Results: Alloanergization of HLA-mismatched donor T cells efficiently and selectively abrogated recipient-specific alloproliferation in both CD4+ and CD8+ cells while preserving functional CD4+ and CD8+ immune responses to clinically important human herpes viruses and to the TAA WT1.

Conclusions: Retention of pathogen- and TAA-specific immunity after alloanergization demonstrates that this methodology, which is simple to apply, has potential to improve immune reconstitution while limiting alloreactivity after HLA-mismatched hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, and deserves additional evaluation in further human clinical trials.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/TP.0b013e3181861b6cDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2669433PMC
September 2008

CpG oligodeoxynucleotides alter lymphocyte and dendritic cell trafficking in humans.

Clin Cancer Res 2008 Sep;14(17):5626-34

Department of Hematology/Oncology, Children's Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

Purpose: CpG oligodeoxynucleotides (CpG-ODN) are being investigated as cancer vaccine adjuvants because they mature plasmacytoid dendritic cells (PDC) into potent antigen-presenting cells. CpG-ODN also induce PDC to secrete chemokines that alter lymphocyte migration. Whether CpG-ODN TLR signals enhance antigen-specific immunity and/or trafficking in humans is unknown.

Experimental Design: We conducted a phase I study of CpG-ODN (1018 ISS) given as a vaccine adjuvant with granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) to induce T-cell immunity to a peptide vaccine from the tumor-associated antigen hTERT.

Results: The adjuvant effect was limited; only 1 of 16 patients showed a high-frequency hTERT-specific tetramer CD8(+) T-cell response. However, CpG-ODN induced marked, transient peripheral blood lymphopenia. Biopsies showed dense lymphocytic infiltration at the vaccine site clustered around activated PDC. In vitro, CpG-ODN-treated PDC induced T-cell migration, showing that CpG-ODN stimulation of human PDC was sufficient to chemoattract T cells.

Conclusions: Our results show that (a) CpG-ODN with GM-CSF may not be an effective adjuvant strategy for hTERT peptide vaccines but (b) GM-CSF/CpG-ODN causes a PDC-mediated chemokine response that recruits T-cell migration to the peripheral tissues. These findings suggest a novel therapeutic role for targeted injections of CpG-ODN to direct lymphocyte migration to specific sites such as the tumor bed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-08-0526DOI Listing
September 2008

Identification of an evolutionarily conserved transcriptional signature of CD8 memory differentiation that is shared by T and B cells.

J Immunol 2008 Aug;181(3):1859-68

Department of Pediatric Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

After Ag encounter, naive lymphocytes differentiate into populations of memory cells that share a common set of functions including faster response to Ag re-exposure and the ability to self-renew. However, memory lymphocytes in different lymphocyte lineages are functionally and phenotypically diverse. It is not known whether discrete populations of T and B cells use similar transcriptional programs during differentiation into the memory state. We used cross-species genomic analysis to examine the pattern of genes up-regulated during the differentiation of naive lymphocytes into memory cells in multiple populations of human CD4, CD8, and B cell lymphocytes as well as two mouse models of memory development. We identified and validated a signature of genes that was up-regulated in memory cells compared with naive cells in both human and mouse CD8 memory differentiation, suggesting marked evolutionary conservation of this transcriptional program. Surprisingly, this conserved CD8 differentiation signature was also up-regulated during memory differentiation in CD4 and B cell lineages. To validate the biologic significance of this signature, we showed that alterations in this signature of genes could distinguish between functional and exhausted CD8 T cells from a mouse model of chronic viral infection. Finally, we generated genome-wide microarray data from tetramer-sorted human T cells and showed profound differences in this differentiation signature between T cells specific for HIV and those specific for influenza. Thus, our data suggest that in addition to lineage-specific differentiation programs, T and B lymphocytes use a common transcriptional program during memory development that is disrupted in chronic viral infection.
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3771862PMC
http://dx.doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.181.3.1859DOI Listing
August 2008