Osteopontin (OPN) has been considered a potential biomarker of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). However, the function of OPN in GVHD is still elusive. Using a mouse model of acute GVHD (aGVHD), we report that OPN generated by CD4+ T cells is sufficient to exert a beneficial effect in controlling aGVHD through limiting gastrointestinal pathology, a major target organ of aGVHD. CD4+ T cell-derived OPN works on CD44 expressed in intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) and abates cell death of IECs. OPN also modulates gut microbiota with enhanced health-associated commensal bacteria Akkermansia. Importantly, we use our in vivo mouse mutant model to specifically express OPN isoforms and demonstrate that secreted OPN (sOPN), not intracellular OPN (iOPN), is solely responsible for the protective role of OPN. This study demonstrates that sOPN generated by CD4+ T cells is potent enough to limit aGVHD.
Keywords: CD44; cell death; graft-versus-host disease (GVHD); intestinal epithelial cells (IECs); intracellular osteopontin (iOPN); microbiome; secreted osteopontin (sOPN).
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