Chronic graft-versus-host disease (cGVHD) is a major complication, affecting 50% to 80% of long-term survivors of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Current cGVHD therapies are neither specific nor curative, and patients are typically maintained for several months to years under immunosuppressive regimens that are associated with important side effects and increased susceptibility to life-threatening infections. As a result, continued investigation into the pathology of the disease and the search for novel diagnostic and therapeutic strategies to treat cGVHD remains a high priority. We report that the cellular dynamics of various immune cell subsets are related to cGVHD onset and severity in a cohort of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation recipients. We document a decrease in the proportion of CD45RO + CD4 −CD8 − (double-negative [DN]) T cells at the onset of cGVHD, a time at which serum levels of B cell activating factor and B cells are increased. We also find that DN T cell levels are correlated with cGVHD severity. Our present findings are in line with the view that activated DN T cells exhibit their immunoregulatory potential by eliminating B cells in vivo. Taken together, these findings suggest that maintaining elevated DN T cell numbers before the onset of cGVHD may prevent pathological B cell responses.
- B cells
- DN T cells
- chronic graft vs host disease immunoregulatory cells