Chronic graft-versus-host disease (cGVHD) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality following allotransplant. Activated donor effector T cells can differentiate into pathogenic T helper (Th)-17 cells and germinal center (GC)-promoting T follicular helper (Tfh) cells, resulting in cGVHD. Phosphoinositide-3-kinase-δ (PI3Kδ), a lipid kinase, is critical for activated T cell survival, proliferation, differentiation, and metabolism. We demonstrate PI3Kδ activity in donor T cells that become Tfh cells is required for cGVHD in a nonsclerodermatous multiorgan system disease model that includes bronchiolitis obliterans (BO), dependent upon GC B cells, Tfhs, and counterbalanced by T follicular regulatory cells, each requiring PI3Kδ signaling for function and survival. Although B cells rely on PI3Kδ pathway signaling and GC formation is disrupted resulting in a substantial decrease in Ig production, PI3Kδ kinase-dead mutant donor bone marrow-derived GC B cells still supported BO cGVHD generation. A PI3Kδ-specific inhibitor, compound GS-649443, that has superior potency to idelalisib while maintaining selectivity, reduced cGVHD in mice with active disease. In a Th1-dependent and Th17-associated scleroderma model, GS-649443 effectively treated mice with active cGVHD. These data provide a foundation for clinical trials of US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved PI3Kδ inhibitors for cGVHD therapy in patients.
Keywords: basic (laboratory) research/science; graft-versus-host disease (GVHD); immunobiology; immunosuppressant - other.
© 2019 The American Society of Transplantation and the American Society of Transplant Surgeons.