Chronic graft-versus-host disease (cGvHD) is a common complication of allogeneic bone marrow transplantation, and has a major effect on the long-term prognosis. The molecular mechanisms underlying cGvHD have been only partially revealed, and molecular targeted therapies have not yet been established for clinical use. We examined the effects of the combined inhibition of the Abelson kinase (c-Abl) and platelet-derived growth factor receptors (PDGFR) in experimental sclerodermatous cGvHD. Treatment using imatinib or nilotinib abolished the aberrant activation of c-Abl and PDGFR and protected against experimental cGvHD. Preventive therapy using imatinib or nilotinib inhibited the development of sclerodermatous cGvHD. Clinical features such as weight loss, alopecia, and skin ulcers, and histologic features with dermal thickening and accumulation of collagen were significantly reduced in mice that received imatinib or nilotinib therapy, but not in mice that received prednisone therapy. Of note, imatinib and nilotinib were also effective for treatment of experimental cGvHD that had already been clinically manifested. In summary, the combined inhibition of c-Abl and PDGFR is effective for prevention and treatment of experimental sclerodermatous cGvHD. Considering the high morbidity associated with cGvHD, the lack of efficient molecular therapies for clinical use, and first positive signals from uncontrolled studies of imatinib, combined inhibition of c-Abl and PDGFR might be a promising future strategy for treatment of sclerodermatous cGvHD.
Copyright © 2012 American Society for Investigative Pathology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.