Environmental exposures are a potential trigger of chronic pulmonary graft-versus-host disease (pGVHD) after successful recovery from hematopoietic cell transplant (HCT). We hypothesized that inhalations of LPS, a prototypic environmental stimulus, trigger pGVHD via increased pulmonary recruitment of donor-derived antigen-presenting cells (APCs) through the C-C motif ligand 2 (CCL2)-C-C motif receptor 2 (CCR2) chemokine axis. B10.BR(H2(k)) and C57BL/6(H2(b)) mice underwent allogeneic (Allo) or syngeneic (Syn) HCT with wild-type (WT) C57BL/6, CCL2(-/-), or CCR2(-/-) donors. After 4 weeks, recipient mice received daily inhaled LPS for 5 days and were killed at multiple time points. Allo mice exposed to repeated inhaled LPS developed prominent lymphocytic bronchiolitis, similar to human pGVHD. The increase in pulmonary T cells in Allo mice after LPS exposures was accompanied by increased CCL2, CCR2, and Type-1 T-helper cytokines as well as by monocytes and monocyte-derived dendritic cells (moDCs) compared with Syn and nontransplanted controls. Using CCL2(-/-) donors leads to a significant decrease in lung DCs but to only mildly reduced CD4 T cells. Using CCR2(-/-) donors significantly reduces lung DCs and moDCs but does not change T cells. CCL2 or CCR2 deficiency does not alter pGVHD pathology but increases airway hyperreactivity and IL-5 or IL-13 cytokines. Our results show that hematopoietic donor-derived CCL2 and CCR2 regulate recruitment of APCs to the Allo lung after LPS exposure. Although they do not alter pathologic pGVHD, their absence is associated with increased airway hyperreactivity and IL-5 and IL-13 cytokines. These results suggest that the APC changes that result from CCL2-CCR2 blockade may have unexpected effects on T cell differentiation and physiologic outcomes in HCT.
Keywords: C-C motif ligand 2; C-C motif receptor 2; dendritic cells; graft-versus-host disease; lipopolysaccharide.