Inhibition of BTK and ITK with Ibrutinib Is Effective in the Prevention of Chronic Graft-versus-Host Disease in Mice
Chronic graft-vs-host disease (GVHD) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality of long-term survivors of allogeneic hemato-poietic cell transplantation (HCT). Chronic GVHD can have features of an autoimmune collagen vascular disease with clinical manifestations similar to autoimmune scleroderma and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). However, the pathogenesis of chronic GVHD is poorly understood. It is unclear how autoreactive T and B cells are generated in chronic GVHD recipients. We have recently developed a new chronic GVHD model by transplantation of donor DBA/2 (H-2d) spleen cells into major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-matched but minor antigen-mismatched sublethally irradiated BALB/c (H-2d) recipients as well as athymic BALB/c(nu/nu) and adult-thymectomized BALB/c recipients. Both euthymic and athymic BALB/c recipients developed high levels of serum IgG autoantibodies, sclerodermatous skin damage, and glomerulonephritis. Disease induction required both donor CD25-CD4+ T and B cells in transplants. In contrast, donor CD25+CD4+ T regulatory (Treg) cells prevented the disease induction. These results indicate that host thymus is not required for induction of chronic GVHD and that quiescent autoreactive T and B cells in transplants from nonautoimmune donors may be activated and expanded to cause chronic GVHD with autoimmune manifestations in allogeneic recipients, and donor Treg cells can suppress this process.