Publications by authors named "Nelson Chao"

220 Publications

Cognitive impairment in candidates for allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.

Bone Marrow Transplant 2021 Oct 19. Epub 2021 Oct 19.

Division of Hematologic Malignancies and Cellular Therapy, Department of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA.

Hematopoietic cell transplant (HCT) is an increasingly common and curative treatment strategy to improve survival among individuals with malignant and nonmalignant diseases, with over one million HCTs having been performed worldwide. Neurocognitive dysfunction is a common and untoward consequence of HCT for many recipients, although few studies have examined the profile of neurocognitive impairments in HCT or their association with clinical features, such as frailty, or the incidence of pre-HCT neurocognitive impairments across all ages, which may influence post-HCT neurocognitive impairments. We examined the pattern and correlates of pre-transplant neurocognitive dysfunction in a prospective sample of adults undergoing HCT. Neurocognition was assessed using the Montreal Cognitive Assessment Battery. Frailty was assessed using the Short Physical Performance Battery. Linear regression analysis was used to examine the associations between neurocognitive performance and frailty. Neurocognitive screening profiles were also examined by partitioning MoCA into domain scores, including Executive Function and Memory. We also examined the associations between neurocognition, frailty, and clinical outcomes, including length of transplant hospitalization and survival. One hundred and ten adults were evaluated across a wide age range (range: 19-75; mean age = 54.7 [SD = 14.1]). Neurocognitive performance tended to fall below published normative levels (mean MoCA = 25.5 [SD = 4.1]), with 17% of participants demonstrating impaired performance compared with medical normative data (MoCA ≤ 22) and 34% exhibiting impaired performance relative to healthy samples (MoCA ≤ 25). Mild impairments (MoCA ≤ 25) were common across age ranges, including middle-aged patients (23% for age < 50; 35% for age 50-60, 41% for age ≥ 60), particularly for items assessing Executive Function. Greater levels of frailty associated with lower neurocognitive screening scores (r = -0.29, P < 0.01) and Executive Functioning (r = -0.24, P < 0.01), whereas greater age was associated with poorer Memory performance only (r = -0.33, P < 0.01). Greater levels of frailty prior to transplant associated with longer length of stay (β = 0.10, P = 0.046), but were not associated with survival. Neurocognitive impairments are common among adults undergoing HCT and the pattern of performance varies by age. Pre-transplant frailty is associated with neurocognitive functioning and may portend worse post-transplant early clinical outcomes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41409-021-01470-zDOI Listing
October 2021

The importance of endothelial protection: the emerging role of defibrotide in reversing endothelial injury and its sequelae.

Bone Marrow Transplant 2021 Sep 28. Epub 2021 Sep 28.

Barcelona Endothelium Team, Josep Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute, Hospital Clinic/University of Barcelona Campus, Barcelona, Spain.

Hepatic veno-occlusive disease/sinusoidal obstruction syndrome (VOD/SOS), a potentially life-threatening complication of hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT), results from prolonged sinusoidal endothelial cell activation and profound endothelial cell damage, with sequelae. Defibrotide, the only drug approved in the United States and Europe for treating VOD/SOS post-HCT, has European Commission orphan drug designation for preventing graft-versus-host disease (GvHD), associated with endothelial dysfunction. This endothelial cell protector and stabilizing agent restores thrombo-fibrinolytic balance and preserves endothelial homeostasis through antithrombotic, fibrinolytic, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, and anti-adhesive activity. Defibrotide also preserves endothelial cell structure by inhibiting heparanase activity. Evidence suggests that downregulating p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and histone deacetylases (HDACs) is key to defibrotide's endothelial protective effects; phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt (PI3K/AKT) potentially links defibrotide interaction with the endothelial cell membrane and downstream effects. Despite defibrotide's being most extensively studied in VOD/SOS, emerging preclinical and clinical data support defibrotide for treating or preventing other conditions driven by endothelial cell activation, dysfunction, and/or damage, such as GvHD, transplant-associated thrombotic microangiopathy, or chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapy-associated neurotoxicity, underpinned by cytokine release syndrome and endotheliitis. Further preclinical and clinical studies will explore defibrotide's potential utility in a broader range of disorders resulting from endothelial cell activation and dysfunction.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41409-021-01383-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8477726PMC
September 2021

Haploidentical vs. sibling, unrelated, or cord blood hematopoietic cell transplantation for acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Blood Adv 2021 Sep 21. Epub 2021 Sep 21.

University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, United States.

The role of haploidentical hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) using post-transplant cyclophosphamide (PTCy) for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is being defined. We performed a retrospective, multivariate analysis comparing outcomes of HCT approaches by donor for adults with ALL in remission. The primary objective was to compare overall survival (OS) between haploidentical HCT using PTCy and HLA-matched sibling donor (MSD), 8/8 HLA-matched unrelated donor (MUD) , 7/8 HLA-matched UD, or umbilical cord blood (UCB) HCT. Comparing haploidentical to MSD HCT, OS, leukemia-free survival (LFS), non-relapse mortality (NRM), relapse, and acute graft-versus-host disease (aGVHD) were not different but chronic GVHD (cGVHD) was higher with MSD HCT. Compared to MUD HCT, OS, LFS, and relapse were not different but MUD HCT had increased NRM (HR 1.42, P=0.02), grade 3-4 aGVHD (HR 1.59, P=0.005), and cGVHD. Compared to 7/8 UD HCT, LFS and relapse were not different, but 7/8 UD HCT had worse OS (HR 1.38, P=0.01) and increased NRM (HR 2.13, P=<0.001), grade 3-4 aGVHD (HR 1.86, P=0.003), and cGVHD (HR 1.72, P=<0.001). Compared to UCB HCT, late OS , late LFS, relapse, and cGVHD were not different but UCB HCT had worse early OS (≤18 months, HR 1.93, P<0.001), worse early LFS (HR 1.40, P=0.007) and increased incidences of NRM (HR 2.08, P<0.001) and grade 3-4 aGVHD (HR 1.97, P<0.001). Haploidentical HCT using PTCy showed no difference in survival but less GVHD compared to traditional MSD and MUD HCT and is the preferred alternative donor HCT option for adults with ALL in CR.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/bloodadvances.2021004916DOI Listing
September 2021

Homecare Encounters: An Organizational Response to Innovative Care for Patients Undergoing Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation During COVID-19.

Clin J Oncol Nurs 2021 08;25(4):457-464

Duke University.

Background: Healthcare delivery has been significantly changed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Patients undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) are vulnerable to infections because of their immunocompromised status. The risk of nosocomial infection may be reduced by providing care to patients at home.

Objectives: This article describes one cancer center's approach for delivering safe patient care through homecare encounters, the benefits of home care for HSCT, and future directions.

Methods: Patients received detailed information on home encounters. Advanced practice providers visited patients daily and then returned to the clinic to formulate a plan of care with the interprofessional care team. Transplantation RNs visited patients on the same day to provide the prescribed care.

Findings: Based on evaluations from 32 patients and 12 providers, the results indicated that home care was safe, feasible, and beneficial for patient care post-HSCT during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1188/21.CJON.457-464DOI Listing
August 2021

A phase 2 trial of the somatostatin analog pasireotide to prevent GI toxicity and acute GVHD in allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant.

PLoS One 2021 25;16(6):e0252995. Epub 2021 Jun 25.

Division of Hematologic Malignancies and Cellular Therapy, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC, United States of America.

Background: Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HCT) is an often curative intent treatment, however it is associated with significant gastrointestinal (GI) toxicity and treatment related mortality. Graft-versus-host disease is a significant contributor to transplant-related mortality. We performed a phase 2 trial of the somatostatin analog pasireotide to prevent gastrointestinal toxicity and GVHD after myeloablative allogeneic HCT.

Methods: Patients received 0.9mg pasireotide every 12 hours from the day prior to conditioning through day +4 after HCT (or a maximum of 14 days). The primary outcomes were grade 3-4 gastrointestinal toxicity through day 30 and acute GVHD. Secondary outcomes were chronic GVHD, overall survival and relapse free survival at one year. Stool and blood samples were collected from before and after HCT for analyses of stool microbiome, local inflammatory markers, and systemic inflammatory and metabolic markers. Results were compared with matched controls.

Results: Twenty-six patients received pasireotide and were compared to 52 matched contemporaneous controls using a 1-2 match. Grade 3-4 GI toxicity occurred in 21 (81%) patients who received pasireotide and 35 (67%) controls (p = 0.33). Acute GVHD occurred in 15 (58%) patients in the pasireotide group and 28 (54%) controls (p = 0.94). Chronic GVHD occurred in 16 patients in the pasireotide group (64%) versus 22 patients in the control group (42%) (p = 0.12). Overall survival at 1 year in the pasireotide group was 63% (95% CI: 47%,86%) versus 82% (95% CI: 72%, 93%) in controls (log-rank p = 0.006). Relapse-free survival rate at one year was 40% (95% CI: 25%, 65%) in the pasireotide group versus 78% (95% CI: 68%, 91%) in controls (log-rank p = 0.002). After controlling for the effect of relevant covariates, patients in the pasireotide group had attenuated post-HCT loss of microbial diversity. Analysis of systemic inflammatory markers and metabolomics demonstrated feasibility of such analyses in patients undergoing allogeneic HCT. Baseline level and pre-to-post transplant changes in several inflammatory markers (including MIP1a, MIP1b, TNFa, IL8Pro, and IL6) correlated with likelihood of survival.

Conclusions: Pasireotide did not prevent gastrointestinal toxicity or acute GVHD compared to contemporaneous controls. Pasireotide was associated with numerically higher chronic GVHD and significantly decreased OS and RFS compared to contemporaneous controls. Pasireotide may provide a locally protective effect in the stool microbiome and in local inflammation as measured by stool calprotectin, stool beta-defensin, and stool diversity index.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0252995PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8232534PMC
June 2021

Female Sex Is Associated with Improved Long-Term Survival Following Allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation.

Transplant Cell Ther 2021 09 17;27(9):784.e1-784.e7. Epub 2021 Jun 17.

Division of Hematologic Malignancies and Cellular Therapy, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina. Electronic address:

Life expectancy for long-term survivors of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (alloHSCT), defined as those living ≥5 years post-transplantation, is significantly lower compared with that of the age-matched general population despite a relatively low primary disease relapse rate at >2 years post-transplantation. Among several factors, patient sex is increasingly recognized as a prognostic indicator of long-term survival. We examined the influence of patient sex and donor-recipient sex matching on overall survival (OS) in a landmark analysis of long-term survivors. Using our institutional database supplemented with individual patient record review, we retrospectively investigated the relative influence of recipient sex and donor-recipient sex matching on outcomes of long-term survivors of alloHSCT between 1994 and 2014. Over this 20-year period, 247 met inclusion criteria for analysis; males and females had similar demographic and treatment characteristics. However, significantly more deaths after the 5-year landmark occurred in male recipients. Interestingly, donor sex did not have a significant impact on OS in multivariate analysis, and differences in OS of donor-recipient sex pairs was driven by recipient sex. In addition to recipient sex, only chronic graft-versus-host disease (cGVHD) retained significance as a covariate with an impact on OS in multivariate analysis. Men experienced slightly higher, but statistically nonsignificant, rates and increased severity of cGVHD, and had higher cGVHD-related mortality compared with females. In this long-term survival analysis of adult alloHSCT recipients, one of the only to include follow-up to 15 years, our results show that women survive significantly longer than men irrespective of their age at transplantation. This outcome is independent of other common pretransplantation prognostic indicators, such as donor sex or performance status at transplantation. The inferior survival in males is consistent with survival outcomes described in the transplantation literature. Increasing evidence suggests a biological basis for long-term sex-determined outcomes, possibly owing to differing rates or severity of cGVHD or sustained alloimmune tolerance in females. Larger studies are warranted to validate these retrospective clinical results.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jtct.2021.06.012DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8403653PMC
September 2021

Decreased Mortality in 1-Year Survivors of Umbilical Cord Blood Transplant vs. Matched Related or Matched Unrelated Donor Transplant in Patients with Hematologic Malignancies.

Transplant Cell Ther 2021 08 12;27(8):669.e1-669.e8. Epub 2021 May 12.

Division of Hematologic Malignancies and Cellular Therapy, Department of Medicine, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. Electronic address:

Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HCT) has the potential to cure hematologic malignancies but is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Although deaths during the first year after transplantation are often attributable to treatment toxicities and complications, death after the first year may be due to sequelae of accelerated aging caused by cellular senescence. Cytotoxic therapies and radiation used in cancer treatments and conditioning regimens for HCT can induce aging at the molecular level; HCT patients experience time-dependent effects, such as frailty and aging-associated diseases, more rapidly than people who have not been exposed to these treatments. Consistent with this, recipients of younger cells tend to have decreased markers of aging and improved survival, decreased graft-versus-host disease, and lower relapse rates. Given that umbilical cord blood (UCB) is the youngest donor source available, we studied the outcomes after the first year of UCB transplantation versus matched related donor (MRD) and matched unrelated donor (MUD) transplantation in patients with hematologic malignancies over a 20-year period. In this single-center, retrospective study, we examined the outcomes of all adult patients who underwent their first allogeneic HCT through the Duke Adult Bone Marrow Transplant program from January 1, 1996, to December 31, 2015, to allow for at least 3 years of follow-up. Patients were excluded if they died or were lost to follow-up before day 365 after HCT, received an allogeneic HCT for a disease other than a hematologic malignancy, or received cells from a haploidentical or mismatched adult donor. UCB recipients experienced a better unadjusted overall survival than MRD/MUD recipients (log rank P = .03, median overall survival: UCB not reached, MRD/MUD 7.4 years). After adjusting for selected covariates, UCB recipients who survived at least 1 year after HCT had a hazard of death that was 31% lower than that of MRD/MUD recipients (hazard ratio, 0.69; 95% confidence interval, 0.47-0.99; P = .049). This trend held true in a subset analysis of subjects with acute leukemia. UCB recipients also experienced lower rates of moderate or severe chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) and nonrelapse mortality, and slower time to relapse. UCB and MRD/MUD recipients experienced similar rates of grade 2-4 acute GVHD, chronic GHVD, secondary malignancy, and subsequent allogeneic HCT. UCB is already widely used as a donor source in pediatric HCT; however, adult outcomes and adoption have historically lagged behind in comparison. Recent advancements in UCB transplantation such as the implementation of lower-intensity conditioning regimens, double unit transplants, and ex vivo expansion have improved early mortality, making UCB an increasingly attractive donor source for adults; furthermore, our findings suggest that UCB may actually be a preferred donor source for mitigating late effects of HCT.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jtct.2021.05.002DOI Listing
August 2021

Impact of depth of clinical response on outcomes of acute myeloid leukemia patients in first complete remission who undergo allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation.

Bone Marrow Transplant 2021 09 16;56(9):2108-2117. Epub 2021 Apr 16.

Haematology Research Centre, Department of Immunology and Inflammation, Imperial College London, London, UK.

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients often undergo allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (alloHCT) in first complete remission (CR). We examined the effect of depth of clinical response, including incomplete count recovery (CRi) and/or measurable residual disease (MRD), in patients from the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplantation Research (CIBMTR) registry. We identified 2492 adult patients (1799 CR and 693 CRi) who underwent alloHCT between January 1, 2007 and December 31, 2015. The primary outcome was overall survival (OS). Multivariable analysis was performed to adjust for patient-, disease-, and transplant-related factors. Baseline characteristics were similar. Patients in CRi compared to those in CR had an increased likelihood of death (HR: 1.27; 95% confidence interval: 1.13-1.43). Compared to CR, CRi was significantly associated with increased non-relapse mortality (NRM), shorter disease-free survival (DFS), and a trend toward increased relapse. Detectable MRD was associated with shorter OS, shorter DFS, higher NRM, and increased relapse compared to absence of MRD. The deleterious effects of CRi and MRD were independent. In this large CIBMTR cohort, survival outcomes differ among AML patients based on depth of CR and presence of MRD at the time of alloHCT. Further studies should focus on optimizing post-alloHCT outcomes for patients with responses less than CR.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41409-021-01261-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8425595PMC
September 2021

Assessing the Feasibility of a Novel mHealth App in Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant Patients.

Transplant Cell Ther 2021 02 13;27(2):181.e1-181.e9. Epub 2020 Dec 13.

Division of Hematologic Malignancies and Cellular Therapy, Department of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina. Electronic address:

Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HCT) is a curative treatment option for patients with hematologic conditions but presents many complications that must be managed as a complex, chronic condition. Mobile health applications (mHealth apps) may permit tracking of symptoms in HCT. In seeking strategies to manage the complexities of HCT, our team collaborated with Sicklesoft, Inc., to develop an mHealth app specifically for HCT patients to allow for daily evaluation of patient health, Technology Recordings to better Understand Bone Marrow Transplantation (TRU-BMT). The primary value of this application is that of potentially enhancing the monitoring of symptoms and general health of patients undergoing HCT, with the ultimate goal of allowing earlier detection of adverse events, earlier intervention, and improving outcomes. To first evaluate patient interest in mHealth apps, we designed and administered an interest survey to patients at the 2017 BMT-InfoNet reunion. As a follow-up to the positive feedback received, we began testing the TRU-BMT app in a Phase 1 pilot study. Thirty patients were enrolled in this single-arm study and were given the TRU-BMT mHealth app on a smartphone device in addition to a wearable activity tracker. Patients were followed for up to 180 days, all the while receiving daily app monitoring. Adherence to TRU-BMT was approximately 30% daily and 44% weekly, and greater adherence was associated with increased meal completion, decreased heart rate, and shorter hospital stay. TRU-BMT assessments of symptom severity were significantly associated with duration of hospital stay and development of chronic graft-versus-host disease. Our findings suggest that using TRU-BMT throughout HCT is feasible for patients and established a proof-of-concept for a future randomized control trial of the TRU-BMT application in HCT. © 2021 American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jtct.2020.10.017DOI Listing
February 2021

Worldwide Network for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (WBMT) Recommendations Regarding Essential Medications Required To Establish An Early Stage Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation Program.

Transplant Cell Ther 2021 03 16;27(3):267.e1-267.e5. Epub 2020 Dec 16.

Oncology Center, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Department of Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.

Establishing a hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) program is complex. Planning is essential while establishing such a program to overcome the expected challenges. Authorities involved in HCT program establishment will need to coordinate the efforts between the different departments required to start up the program. One essential department is pharmacy and the medications required. To help facilitate this, the Worldwide Network for Blood and Marrow Transplantation organized a structured survey to address the essential medications required to start up an HCT program. A group of senior physicians and pharmacists prepared a list of the medications used at the different phases of transplantation. These drugs were then rated by a questionnaire using a scale of necessity based on the stage of development of the transplant program. The questionnaire was sent to 30 physicians, in different parts of the world, who have between 5 and 40 years of experience in autologous and/or allogeneic transplantation. This group of experts scored each medication on a 7-point scale, ranging from an absolute requirement (score of 1) to not required (score of 7). The results are presented here to help guide the prioritization of required medications.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jtct.2020.12.015DOI Listing
March 2021

Chlorhexidine Gluconate Bathing Reduces the Incidence of Bloodstream Infections in Adults Undergoing Inpatient Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation.

Transplant Cell Ther 2021 03 7;27(3):262.e1-262.e11. Epub 2021 Jan 7.

Division of Hematologic Malignancies and Cellular Therapy, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina. Electronic address:

Bloodstream infections (BSIs) occur in 20% to 45% of inpatient autologous and allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplant (HCT) patients. Daily bathing with the antiseptic chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) has been shown to reduce the incidence of BSIs in critically ill patients, although very few studies include HCT patients or have evaluated the impact of compliance on effectiveness. We conducted a prospective cohort study with historical controls to assess the impact of CHG bathing on the rate of BSIs and gut microbiota composition among adults undergoing inpatient HCT at the Duke University Medical Center. We present 1 year of data without CHG bathing (2016) and 2 years of data when CHG was used on the HCT unit (2017 and 2018). Because not all patients adhered to CHG, patients were grouped into four categories by rate of daily CHG usage: high (>75%), medium (50% to 75%), low (1% to 49%), and none (0%). Among 192 patients, univariate trend analysis demonstrated that increased CHG usage was associated with decreased incidence of clinically significant BSI, defined as any BSI requiring treatment by the medical team (high, 8% BSI; medium, 15.2%; low, 15.6%; no CHG, 30.3%; P = .003), laboratory-confirmed BSI (LCBI; P = .03), central line-associated BSI (P = .04), and mucosal barrier injury LCBI (MBI-LCBI; P = .002). Multivariate analysis confirmed a significant effect of CHG bathing on clinically significant BSI (P = .023) and MBI-LCBI (P = .007), without consistently impacting gut microbial diversity. Benefits of CHG bathing were most pronounced with >75% daily usage, and there were no adverse effects attributable to CHG. Adherence to daily CHG bathing significantly decreases the rate of bloodstream infection following HCT.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jtct.2021.01.004DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8010223PMC
March 2021

BAFF promotes heightened BCR responsiveness and manifestations of chronic GVHD after allogeneic stem cell transplantation.

Blood 2021 May;137(18):2544-2557

Division of Hematological Malignancies and Cellular Therapy, Department of Medicine and.

Patients with chronic graft-versus-host disease (cGVHD) have increased B cell-activating factor (BAFF) levels, but whether BAFF promotes disease after allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (allo-BMT) remains unknown. In a major histocompatibility complex-mismatched model with cGVHD-like manifestations, we first examined B-lymphopenic μMT allo-BMT recipients and found that increased BAFF levels in cGVHD mice were not merely a reflection of B-cell number. Mice that later developed cGVHD had significantly increased numbers of recipient fibroblastic reticular cells with higher BAFF transcript levels. Increased BAFF production by donor cells also likely contributed to cGVHD, because BAFF transcript in CD4+ T cells from diseased mice and patients was increased. cGVHD manifestations in mice were associated with high BAFF/B-cell ratios and persistence of B-cell receptor (BCR)-activated B cells in peripheral blood and lesional tissue. By employing BAFF transgenic (Tg) mice donor cells, we addressed whether high BAFF contributed to BCR activation in cGVHD. BAFF increased NOTCH2 expression on B cells, augmenting BCR responsiveness to surrogate antigen and NOTCH ligand. BAFF Tg B cells had significantly increased protein levels of the proximal BCR signaling molecule SYK, and high SYK protein was maintained by BAFF after in vitro BCR activation or when alloantigen was present in vivo. Using T cell-depleted (BM only) BAFF Tg donors, we found that BAFF promoted cGVHD manifestations, circulating GL7+ B cells, and alloantibody production. We demonstrate that pathologic production of BAFF promotes an altered B-cell compartment and augments BCR responsiveness. Our findings compel studies of therapeutic targeting of BAFF and BCR pathways in patients with cGVHD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/blood.2020008040DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8109011PMC
May 2021

Fecal microbiota diversity disruption and clinical outcomes after auto-HCT: a multicenter observational study.

Blood 2021 03;137(11):1527-1537

Department of Genomic Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX.

We previously described clinically relevant reductions in fecal microbiota diversity in patients undergoing allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (allo-HCT). Recipients of high-dose chemotherapy and autologous HCT (auto-HCT) incur similar antibiotic exposures and nutritional alterations. To characterize the fecal microbiota in the auto-HCT population, we analyzed 1161 fecal samples collected from 534 adult recipients of auto-HCT for lymphoma, myeloma, and amyloidosis in an observational study conducted at 2 transplantation centers in the United States. By using 16S ribosomal gene sequencing, we assessed fecal microbiota composition and diversity, as measured by the inverse Simpson index. At both centers, the diversity of early pretransplant fecal microbiota was lower in patients than in healthy controls and decreased further during the course of transplantation. Loss of diversity and domination by specific bacterial taxa occurred during auto-HCT in patterns similar to those with allo-HCT. Above-median fecal intestinal diversity in the periengraftment period was associated with decreased risk of death or progression (progression-free survival hazard ratio, 0.46; 95% confidence interval, 0.26-0.82; P = .008), adjusting for disease and disease status. This suggests that further investigation into the health of the intestinal microbiota in auto-HCT patients and posttransplant outcomes should be undertaken.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/blood.2020006923DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7976512PMC
March 2021

The gut microbiota is associated with immune cell dynamics in humans.

Nature 2020 12 25;588(7837):303-307. Epub 2020 Nov 25.

Computational and Systems Biology Program, Sloan Kettering Institute, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, USA.

The gut microbiota influences development and homeostasis of the mammalian immune system, and is associated with human inflammatory and immune diseases as well as responses to immunotherapy. Nevertheless, our understanding of how gut bacteria modulate the immune system remains limited, particularly in humans, where the difficulty of direct experimentation makes inference challenging. Here we study hundreds of hospitalized-and closely monitored-patients with cancer receiving haematopoietic cell transplantation as they recover from chemotherapy and stem-cell engraftment. This aggressive treatment causes large shifts in both circulatory immune cell and microbiota populations, enabling the relationships between the two to be studied simultaneously. Analysis of observed daily changes in circulating neutrophil, lymphocyte and monocyte counts and more than 10,000 longitudinal microbiota samples revealed consistent associations between gut bacteria and immune cell dynamics. High-resolution clinical metadata and Bayesian inference allowed us to compare the effects of bacterial genera in relation to those of immunomodulatory medications, revealing a considerable influence of the gut microbiota-together and over time-on systemic immune cell dynamics. Our analysis establishes and quantifies the link between the gut microbiota and the human immune system, with implications for microbiota-driven modulation of immunity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2971-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7725892PMC
December 2020

Multi-omics analyses of radiation survivors identify radioprotective microbes and metabolites.

Science 2020 10;370(6516)

Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.

Ionizing radiation causes acute radiation syndrome, which leads to hematopoietic, gastrointestinal, and cerebrovascular injuries. We investigated a population of mice that recovered from high-dose radiation to live normal life spans. These "elite-survivors" harbored distinct gut microbiota that developed after radiation and protected against radiation-induced damage and death in both germ-free and conventionally housed recipients. Elevated abundances of members of the bacterial taxa and were associated with postradiation restoration of hematopoiesis and gastrointestinal repair. These bacteria were also found to be more abundant in leukemia patients undergoing radiotherapy, who also displayed milder gastrointestinal dysfunction. In our study in mice, metabolomics revealed increased fecal concentrations of microbially derived propionate and tryptophan metabolites in elite-survivors. The administration of these metabolites caused long-term radioprotection, mitigation of hematopoietic and gastrointestinal syndromes, and a reduction in proinflammatory responses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aay9097DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7898465PMC
October 2020

Clinical and Neuroimaging Correlates of Post-Transplant Delirium.

Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 2020 12 19;26(12):2323-2328. Epub 2020 Sep 19.

Department of Medicine, Division of Hematologic Malignancies and Cellular Therapy, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina.

Delirium is common among adults undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HCT), although the clinical and neuroimaging correlates of post-HCT delirium have not been adequately delineated. We therefore examined the frequency of delirium and neuroimaging correlates of post-transplant delirium in a retrospective cohort of 115 adults undergoing neuroimaging after allogeneic HCT. Delirium was established using previously validated methods for retrospective identification of chart-assessed postprocedural delirium. Chart reviews were independently conducted by a multidisciplinary team with expertise in HCT, psychiatry, and psychology on consecutive allogeneic HCT patients who underwent neuroimaging assessments and transplantation at a single center between January 2009 and December 2016. Neuroimaging markers of white matter damage and brain volume loss were also recorded. In total, 115 patients were included, ranging in age from 20 to 74 years (mean [SD] age, 49 [13]). Fifty-three patients (46%) developed post-HCT delirium. In an adjusted model, delirium incidence was associated with older age (odds ratio [OR], 1.92 [1.28, 2.87] per decade, P = .002), greater severity of white matter hyperintensities (OR, 1.95 [1.06, 3.57], P = .031), and conditioning intensity (OR, 6.37 [2.20, 18.45], P < .001) but was unrelated to cortical atrophy (P = .777). Delirium was associated with fewer hospital-free days (P = .023) but was not associated with overall survival (hazard ratio, 0.95 [0.56, 1.61], P = .844). Greater incidence of delirium following HCT was associated with greater age, microvascular burden, and conditioning intensity. Pre-HCT consideration of microvascular burden and other neuroimaging biomarkers of risk may be warranted.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbmt.2020.09.016DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7977594PMC
December 2020

I have a gut feeling….

Authors:
Nelson J Chao

Blood 2020 09;136(12):1380

Duke University.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/blood.2020007186DOI Listing
September 2020

Pre-transplant hepatic steatosis (fatty liver) is associated with chronic graft-vs-host disease but not mortality.

PLoS One 2020 11;15(9):e0238824. Epub 2020 Sep 11.

Division of Hematologic Malignancies and Cell Therapy, Department of Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, North Carolina, United States of America.

Allogeneic-HCT (allo-HCT), while potentially curative, can result in significant complications including graft versus host disease (GVHD). Prior studies suggest that metabolic syndrome may be one risk factor for GVHD. We hypothesized that hepatic steatosis on pre-HCT computed tomography (CT) scans may be a marker for development of GVHD and poor outcomes in allo-HCT. In this retrospective study, we reviewed the pre-HCT CT scans and transplant outcome data of patients who underwent allo-HCT at Duke University Medical Center from 2009 to 2017. The presence of steatosis was confirmed using CT attenuation measurements. We then assessed the association between pre-HCT hepatic steatosis and HCT-related outcomes including GVHD. 80 patients who had pre-HCT CT scans were included in the study. Pre-transplant hepatic steatosis was associated with the development of chronic GVHD (OR 4.2, p = 0.02), but was not associated with acute GVHD (OR 1.3, p = 0.7), non-relapse mortality (p = 0.81) or overall survival (p = 0.74). Based on this single center retrospective study, pre-transplant hepatic steatosis is associated with development of chronic GVHD. Further, prospective study with other imaging modalities including non-contrasted CT scans is needed to determine if this association is reproducible.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0238824PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7485815PMC
November 2020

Fibrinogen-Coated Albumin Nanospheres Prevent Thrombocytopenia-Related Bleeding.

Radiat Res 2020 08;194(2):162-172

Division of Hematologic Malignancies and Cellular Therapy, Department of Medicine, and Duke Cancer Institute.

Thrombocytopenia (TCP) may cause severe and life-threatening bleeding. While this may be prevented by platelet transfusions, transfusions are associated with potential complications, do not always work (platelet refractory) and are not always available. There is an urgent need for a synthetic alternative. We evaluated the ability of fibrinogen-coated nanospheres (FCNs) to prevent TCP-related bleeding. FCNs are made of human albumin polymerized into a 100-nm sphere and coated with fibrinogen. We hypothesized that FCNs would bind to platelets through fibrinogen-GPIIb/IIIa interactions, contributing to hemostasis in the setting of TCP. We used two murine models to test these effects: in the first model, BALB/c mice received 7.25 Gy total-body irradiation (TBI); in the second model, lower dose TBI (7.0 Gy) was combined with an anti-platelet antibody (anti-CD41) to induce severe TCP. Deaths in both models were due to gastrointestinal or intracranial bleeding. Addition of antiplatelet antibody to 7.0 Gy TBI significantly worsened TCP and increased mortality compared to 7.0 Gy TBI alone. FCNs significantly improved survival compared to saline control in both models, suggesting it ameliorated TCP-related bleeding. Additionally, in a saphenous vein bleeding model of antibody-induced TCP, FCNs shortened bleeding times. There were no clinical or histological findings of thrombosis or laboratory findings of disseminated intravascular coagulation after FCN treatment. In support of safety, fluorescence microscopy suggests that FCNs bind to platelets only upon platelet activation with collagen, limiting activity to areas of endothelial damage. To our knowledge, this is the first biosynthetic agent to demonstrate a survival advantage in TCP-related bleeding.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1667/RADE-20-00016DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7802826PMC
August 2020

Real-World Issues and Potential Solutions in Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Perspectives from the Worldwide Network for Blood and Marrow Transplantation and Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research Health Services and International Studies Committee.

Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 2020 12 24;26(12):2181-2189. Epub 2020 Jul 24.

Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Department of Pediatrics, University of Washington and Vaccine and Infectious Diseases Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington.

The current COVID-19 pandemic, caused by SARS-CoV-2, has impacted many facets of hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) in both developed and developing countries. Realizing the challenges as a result of this pandemic affecting the daily practice of the HCT centers and the recognition of the variability in practice worldwide, the Worldwide Network for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (WBMT) and the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research's (CIBMTR) Health Services and International Studies Committee have jointly produced an expert opinion statement as a general guide to deal with certain aspects of HCT, including diagnostics for SARS-CoV-2 in HCT recipient, pre- and post-HCT management, donor issues, medical tourism, and facilities management. During these crucial times, which may last for months or years, the HCT community must reorganize to proceed with transplantation activity in those patients who urgently require it, albeit with extreme caution. This shared knowledge may be of value to the HCT community in the absence of high-quality evidence-based medicine. © 2020 American Society for Transplantation and Cellular Therapy. Published by Elsevier Inc.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbmt.2020.07.021DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7380217PMC
December 2020

Cancer incidence and treatment utilization patterns at a regional cancer center in Tanzania from 2008-2016: Initial report of 2,772 cases.

Cancer Epidemiol 2020 08 10;67:101772. Epub 2020 Jul 10.

Bugando Medical Centre, Mwanza, Tanzania; Duke Global Health Institute, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA; Department of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA. Electronic address:

Purpose: To describe cancer incidence and treatment utilization patterns at the regional cancer referral center for the Lake Zone of northwestern Tanzania from 2008 to 2016.

Methods: This descriptive, retrospective study reviewed all cancer cases recorded in the Bugando Cancer Registry (BCR), a clinical and pathology based registry at the only cancer referral hospital in the region. Primary tumor site, method of diagnosis, HIV status, and cancer treatment were reported. Using census data, the 2012 GLOBOCAN estimates for Tanzania were scaled to the Lake Zone and adjusted for 2016 population growth. These estimates were then compared to BCR cases using one-sample tests of proportion.

Results: A total of 2772 cases were reported from 2008-2016. Among these, the majority of cases (82.5 %, n = 2286) were diagnosed among adults. Most cases (85 %, n = 1923) were diagnosed by histology or cytology. Among adults, the most common cancers diagnosed were cervix (22.7 %, n=520), breast (12.6 %, n=288), and prostate (8.5 %, n=195). Among children, the most common cancers were non-Burkitt non-Hodgkin lymphoma (17.3 %, n=84), Burkitt lymphoma (16.5 %, n=80), and Wilms tumor (14.6 %, n=71). The 1116 BCR cases represent 12.2 % of the 9165 expected number of cancer cases for the Lake Zone (p < 0.001). 1494 cases (53.9 %) received some form of treatment - surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or hormone therapy - while 1278 cases (46.1 %) had no treatment recorded.

Conclusions: This comprehensive report of the BCR reveals cancer epidemiology and treatment utilization patterns typical of hospitals in low-resource settings. Despite being the only cancer center in the Lake Zone, BMC evaluates a small percentage of the expected number of cancer patients for the region. The BCR remains an important resource to guide clinical care and academic activities for the Lake Zone.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.canep.2020.101772DOI Listing
August 2020

Phase I dose escalation study of naive T-cell depleted donor lymphocyte infusion following allogeneic stem cell transplantation.

Bone Marrow Transplant 2021 01 5;56(1):137-143. Epub 2020 Jul 5.

Division of Hematologic Malignancies and Cellular Therapy, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA.

Prophylactic donor lymphocyte infusions (DLI) are used to augment post-transplant immune recovery to reduce both infectious complications and disease recurrence. Preclinical studies implicate the naive T-cell subset as the primary driver of graft-versus-host disease (GvHD). In this phase I dose escalation study, we assessed the safety of a DLI that was depleted of CD45RA+ naive T cells. Sixteen adult patients received a prophylactic DLI at a median of 113 days (range 76-280 days) following an HLA-identical, non-myeloablative allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Three patients each received the naive T-cell depleted DLI with a CD3+ dose of 1 × 10/kg, 1 × 10/kg, and 5 × 10/kg. The maximum dose of 1 × 10/kg was expanded to 7 patients. No dose-limiting grade III/IV acute GvHD or adverse events attributable to the DLI were observed at any dose level. One patient developed grade 2 acute GvHD of skin and upper intestines, and another developed moderate chronic GvHD of the lungs following the DLI. With a median follow-up of 2.8 years, 2-year progression-free and overall survival is 50.0% and 68.8%, respectively. In conclusion, these data suggest that a DLI that has been depleted of CD45RA+ naive T cells is feasible and carries a low risk of acute or chronic GvHD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41409-020-0991-5DOI Listing
January 2021

House calls for stem cell transplant patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Blood 2020 07;136(3):370-371

Division of Hematologic Malignancies and Cellular Therapy, Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, Duke University, Durham, NC.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/blood.2020006573DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7365917PMC
July 2020

The microbe-derived short-chain fatty acids butyrate and propionate are associated with protection from chronic GVHD.

Blood 2020 07;136(1):130-136

Department of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY.

Studies of the relationship between the gastrointestinal microbiota and outcomes in allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HCT) have thus far largely focused on early complications, predominantly infection and acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). We examined the potential relationship of the microbiome with chronic GVHD (cGVHD) by analyzing stool and plasma samples collected late after allo-HCT using a case-control study design. We found lower circulating concentrations of the microbe-derived short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) propionate and butyrate in day 100 plasma samples from patients who developed cGVHD, compared with those who remained free of this complication, in the initial case-control cohort of transplant patients and in a further cross-sectional cohort from an independent transplant center. An additional cross-sectional patient cohort from a third transplant center was analyzed; however, serum (rather than plasma) was available, and the differences in SCFAs observed in the plasma samples were not recapitulated. In sum, our findings from the primary case-control cohort and 1 of 2 cross-sectional cohorts explored suggest that the gastrointestinal microbiome may exert immunomodulatory effects in allo-HCT patients at least in part due to control of systemic concentrations of microbe-derived SCFAs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/blood.2019003369DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7332893PMC
July 2020

Finally, a Successful Randomized Trial for GVHD.

Authors:
Nelson Chao

N Engl J Med 2020 05 22;382(19):1853-1854. Epub 2020 Apr 22.

From the Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1056/NEJMe2003331DOI Listing
May 2020
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