Background: Idiopathic aplastic anemia is a potentially lethal disease, characterized by T cell-mediated autoimmune attack of bone marrow hematopoietic stem cells. Standard of care therapies (stem cell transplantation or immunosuppression) are effective but associated with a risk of serious toxicities.
Methods: An 18-year-old man presented with aplastic anemia in the context of a germline gain-of-function variant in STAT1. Treatment with the JAK1 inhibitor itacitinib resulted in a rapid resolution of aplastic anemia and a sustained recovery of hematopoiesis. Peripheral blood and bone marrow samples were compared before and after JAK1 inhibitor therapy.
Findings: Following therapy, samples showed a decrease in the plasma concentration of interferon-γ, a decrease in PD1-positive exhausted CD8+ T cell population, and a decrease in an interferon responsive myeloid population. Single-cell analysis of chromatin accessibility showed decreased accessibility of STAT1 across CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, as well as CD14+ monocytes. To query whether other cases of aplastic anemia share a similar STAT1-mediated pathophysiology, we examined a cohort of 9 patients with idiopathic aplastic anemia. Bone marrow from six of nine patients also displayed abnormal STAT1 hyper-activation.
Conclusions: These findings raise the possibility that STAT1 hyperactivition defines a subset of idiopathic aplastic anemia patients for whom JAK inhibition may be an efficacious therapy.
Funding: Funding was provided by the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Medicine Pathways Program and NIH T32 AI007387. A trial registration is at https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03906318.
Keywords: Aplastic anemia; JAK inhibition; JAK/STAT; STAT1 GOF; STAT1 gain-of-function; T-cell exhaustion; Translation to patients; autoimmune; interferon gamma; itacitinib.
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