PLoS One 2014 20;9(5):e97951. Epub 2014 May 20.
Department of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, United States of America.
Background: Pulmonary GVHD (pGVHD) is an important complication of hematopoietic cell transplant (HCT) and is thought to be a consequence of the HCT conditioning regimen, allogeneic donor cells, and posttransplant lung exposures. We have previously demonstrated that serial inhaled lipopolysaccharide (LPS) exposures potentiate the development of pGVHD after murine allogeneic HCT. In the current study we hypothesized that allogeneic lymphocytes and environmental exposures alone, in the absence of a pre-conditioning regimen, would cause features of pGVHD and would lead to a different T cell expansion pattern compared to syngeneic cells.
Methods: Recipient Rag1-/- mice received a transfer of allogeneic (Allo) or syngeneic (Syn) spleen cells. After 1 week of immune reconstitution, mice received 5 daily inhaled LPS exposures and were sacrificed 72 hours after the last LPS exposure. Lung physiology, histology, and protein levels in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) were assessed. Lung cells were analyzed by flow cytometry.
Results: Both Allo and Syn mice that undergo LPS exposures (AlloLPS and SynLPS) have prominent lymphocytic inflammation in their lungs, resembling pGVHD pathology, not seen in LPS-unexposed or non-transplanted controls. Compared to SynLPS, however, AlloLPS have significantly increased levels of BAL protein and enhancement of airway hyperreactivity, consistent with more severe lung injury. This injury in AlloLPS mice is associated with an increase in CD8 T cells and effector CD4 T cells, as well as a decrease in regulatory to effector CD4 T cell ratio. Additionally, cytokine analysis is consistent with a preferential Th1 differentiation and upregulation of pulmonary CCL5 and granzyme B.
Conclusions: Allogeneic lymphocyte transfer into lymphocyte-deficient mice, followed by LPS exposures, causes features of pGVHD and lung injury in the absence of a pre-conditioning HCT regimen. This lung disease associated with an expansion of allogeneic effector T cells provides a novel model to dissect mechanisms of pGVHD independent of conditioning.