Purpose: The aim of this study was to characterize clinical effects and biomarkers in three patients with chronic mucocutaneous candidiasis (CMC) caused by gain-of-function (GOF) mutations in the STAT1 gene during treatment with Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors.
Methods: Mass cytometry (CyTOF) was used to characterize mononuclear leukocyte populations and Olink assay to quantify 265 plasma proteins. Flow-cytometric Assay for Specific Cell-mediated Immune-response in Activated whole blood (FASCIA) was used to quantify the reactivity against Candida albicans.
Results: Overall, JAK inhibitors improved clinical symptoms of CMC, but caused side effects in two patients. Absolute numbers of neutrophils, T cells, B cells, and NK cells were sustained during baricitinib treatment. Detailed analysis of cellular subsets, using CyTOF, revealed increased expression of CD45, CD52, and CD99 in NK cells, reflecting a more functional phenotype. Conversely, monocytes and eosinophils downregulated CD16, consistent with reduced inflammation. Moreover, T and B cells showed increased expression of activation markers during treatment. In one patient with a remarkable clinical effect of baricitinib treatment, the immune response to C. albicans increased after 7 weeks of treatment. Alterations in plasma biomarkers involved downregulation of cellular markers CXCL10, annexin A1, granzyme B, granzyme H, and oncostatin M, whereas FGF21 was the only upregulated marker after 7 weeks. After 3 months, IFN-ɣ and CXCL10 were downregulated.
Conclusions: The clinical effect of JAK inhibitor treatment of CMC is promising. Several biological variables were altered during baricitinib treatment demonstrating that lymphocytes, NK cells, monocytes, and eosinophils were affected. In parallel, cellular reactivity against C. albicans was enhanced.
Keywords: JAK inhibitor; Olink; STAT1; chronic mucocutaneous candidiasis; mass cytometry.
© 2022. The Author(s).