Type I IFN response associated with mTOR activation in the TAFRO subtype of idiopathic multicentric Castleman disease

JCI Insight. 2020 May 7;5(9):e135031. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.135031.


The TAFRO clinical subtype of idiopathic multicentric Castleman disease (iMCD-TAFRO) is a rare hematologic illness involving episodic disease flares of thrombocytopenia, anasarca, fever, reticulin myelofibrosis, renal dysfunction, and organomegaly (TAFRO) and progressive multiple organ dysfunction. We previously showed that the mTOR signaling pathway is elevated in lymph nodes of iMCD-TAFRO patients and that an mTOR inhibitor is effective in a small cohort of patients. However, the upstream mechanisms, cell types, and mediators involved in disease pathogenesis remain unknown. Here, we developed a targeted approach to identify candidate cellular drivers and mechanisms in iMCD-TAFRO through cellular and transcriptomic studies. Using paired iMCD-TAFRO PBMC samples collected during flare and remission, we identified T cell activation and alterations in NK cell and monocyte subset frequencies during iMCD-TAFRO flare. These changes were associated with increased Type I IFN (IFN-I) response gene signatures across CD8+ T cells, NK cells, and monocytes. Finally, we found that IFN-β stimulation of monocytes and T cells from iMCD-TAFRO patient remission samples induced increased mTOR activation compared with healthy donors, and this was abrogated with either mTORC1 or JAK1/2 inhibition. The data presented here support a potentially novel role for IFN-I signaling as a driver of increased mTOR signaling in iMCD-TAFRO.

Keywords: Cellular immune response; Cytokines; Hematology; Immunology; T cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes* / cytology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes* / immunology
  • Castleman Disease / immunology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interferon Type I / immunology*
  • Killer Cells, Natural* / cytology
  • Killer Cells, Natural* / immunology
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Monocytes* / cytology
  • Monocytes* / immunology
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases / immunology*


  • Interferon Type I
  • MTOR protein, human
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases

Supplementary concepts

  • Multi-centric Castleman's Disease