Post-transplant cyclophosphamide limits reactive donor T cells and delays the development of graft-versus-host disease in a humanized mouse model

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Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) is a major complication of allogeneic haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT) that develops when donor T cells in the graft become reactive against the host. Post-transplant cyclophosphamide (PTCy) is increasingly used in mismatched allo-HSCT, but how PTCy impacts donor T cells and reduces GVHD is unclear. This study aimed to determine the effect of PTCy on reactive human donor T cells and GVHD development in a preclinical humanized mouse model. Immunodeficient NOD-scid-IL2Rγnull mice were injected intraperitoneally (i.p.) with 20 × 106 human peripheral blood mononuclear cells stained with carboxyfluorescein succinimidyl ester (CFSE) (day 0). Mice were subsequently injected (i.p.) with PTCy (33 mg kg−1) (PTCy-mice) or saline (saline-mice) (days 3 and 4). Mice were assessed for T-cell depletion on day 6 and monitored for GVHD for up to 10 weeks. Flow cytometric analysis of livers at day 6 revealed lower proportions of reactive (CFSElow) human (h) CD3+ T cells in PTCy-mice compared with saline-mice. Over 10 weeks, PTCy-mice showed reduced weight loss and clinical GVHD, with prolonged survival and reduced histological liver GVHD compared with saline-mice. PTCy-mice also demonstrated increased splenic hCD4+:hCD8+ T-cell ratios and reduced splenic Tregs (hCD4+ hCD25+ hCD127lo) compared with saline-mice. This study demonstrates that PTCy reduces GVHD in a preclinical humanized mouse model. This corresponded to depletion of reactive human donor T cells, but fewer human Tregs.

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National Health and Medical Research Council



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