Ex vivo inhibition of NF-kappaB signaling in alloreactive T-cells prevents graft-versus-host disease.
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The ex vivo induction of alloantigen-specific hyporesponsiveness by costimulatory pathway blockade or exposure to immunoregulatory cytokines has been shown to inhibit proliferation, IL-2 production, and the graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) capacity of adoptively transferred T-cells. We hypothesized that inhibition of the intracellular NF-kappaB pathway in alloreactive T-cells, which is critical for T-cell activation events including IL-2 transcription, could lead to alloantigen hyporesponsiveness and loss of GVHD capacity. We demonstrate that treatment of mixed lymphocyte reaction (MLR) cultures with PS1145, a potent inhibitor of NF-kappaB activation, can induce T-cell hyporesponsiveness to alloantigen in primary and secondary responses while preserving in vitro responses to potent mitogenic stimulation. GVHD lethality in recipients of ex vivo PS1145-treated cells was profoundly inhibited. Parking of control or PS1145-treated MLR cells in syngeneic Rag(-/-) recipients resulted in intact contact hypersensitivity (CHS) responses. However, GVHD lethality capacity also was restored, suggesting that lymphopenic expansion uncoupled alloantigen hyporesponsiveness. These results indicate that the NF-kappaB pathway is a critical regulator of alloresponses and provide a novel small molecule inhibitor based approach that is effective in preventing early posttransplant GVHD lethality but that also permits donor T-cell responses to recover after a period of lymphopenic expansion.