Lymphohematopoietic graft-versus-host responses promote mixed chimerism in patients receiving intestinal transplantation

Fu J, Zuber J, Shonts B, Obradovic A, Wang Z, Frangaj K, Meng W, Rosenfeld AM, Waffarn EE, Liou P, Lau SP, Savage TM, Yang S, Rogers K, Danzl NM, Ravella S, Satwani P, Iuga A, Ho SH, Griesemer A, Shen Y, Prak ETL, Martinez M, Kato T, Sykes M

JCI, 2021.

Lab members marked as bold


In humans receiving intestinal transplantation (ITx), long-term multilineage blood chimerism often develops. Donor T cell macrochimerism (≥4%) frequently occurs without graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) and is associated with reduced rejection. Here we demonstrate that patients with macrochimerism had high graft-versus-host (GvH) to host-versus-graft (HvG) T cell clonal ratios in their allografts. These GvH clones entered the circulation, where their peak levels were associated with declines in HvG clones early after transplant, suggesting that GvH reactions may contribute to chimerism and control HvG responses without causing GVHD. Consistently, donor-derived T cells, including GvH clones, and CD34+ hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) were simultaneously detected in the recipients’ BM more than 100 days after transplant. Individual GvH clones appeared in ileal mucosa or PBMCs before detection in recipient BM, consistent with an intestinal mucosal origin, where donor GvH-reactive T cells expanded early upon entry of recipient APCs into the graft. These results, combined with cytotoxic single-cell transcriptional profiles of donor T cells in recipient BM, suggest that tissue-resident GvH-reactive donor T cells migrated into the recipient circulation and BM, where they destroyed recipient hematopoietic cells through cytolytic effector functions and promoted engraftment of graft-derived HSPCs that maintain chimerism. These mechanisms suggest an approach to achieving intestinal allograft tolerance.