Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) is a leading cause of nonrelapse mortality after allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation. T cell costimulation by CD28 contributes to GVHD, but prevention is incomplete when targeting CD28, downstream mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), or Aurora A. Likewise, interleukin-6 (IL-6)-mediated Janus kinase 2 (JAK2) signaling promotes alloreactivity, yet JAK2 inhibition does not eliminate GVHD. We provide evidence that blocking Aurora A and JAK2 in human T cells is synergistic in vitro, prevents xenogeneic GVHD, and maintains antitumor responses by cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs). Aurora A/JAK2 inhibition is immunosuppressive but permits the differentiation of inducible regulatory T cells (iTregs) that are hyperfunctional and CD39 bright and efficiently scavenge adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Increased iTreg potency is primarily a function of Aurora A blockade, whereas JAK2 inhibition suppresses T helper 17 (TH17) differentiation. Inhibiting either Aurora A or JAK2 significantly suppresses TH1 T cells. However, CTL generated in vivo retains tumor-specific killing despite Aurora A/JAK2 blockade. Thus, inhibiting CD28 and IL-6 signal transduction pathways in donor T cells can increase the Treg/Tconv ratio, prevent GVHD, and preserve antitumor CTL.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by NIH grant K08 HL11654701A1 to B.C.B. The core facilities are partially supported by the Moffitt Cancer Center Support grant P30-CA076292.
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