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Title: Regulatory T cells in haematopoietic stem cell transplantation
Authors: Mavin, Emily
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: Graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) remains the main complication associated with haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). GvHD is caused by allo-reactive donor T cells mounting an attack against specific target tissues. CD4+CD25HiFoxp3+ regulatory T cells have been shown to modulate GvHD in vitro and also in vivo animal models. More recently early stage clinical trials have described the successful use of Treg to reduce the incidence of GvHD following HSCT. The aim of this study was to investigate further the suppressive mechanisms by which Treg are able to modulate GvHD and assess the influence of Treg on the beneficial graft-versus-leukaemia (GvL) effect therefore providing further insight into the use of Treg in the therapeutic management of GVHD. Data presented in this thesis demonstrates the successful isolation and expansion of a highly pure Treg population which maintained suppressive capacity throughout culture. We also confirmed that Treg retain suppressive capacity following cryopreservation resulting in reduced workload and increased consistency when used for in vitro functional studies. We also provide the first human in vitro evidence that Treg are able to prevent cutaneous GvH reaction by blocking the migration of effector T cells into the target tissues. The presence of Treg during allo-stimulation caused reduced effector cell activation, proliferation, IFNγ secretion and decreased skin homing receptor expression. Further investigation into the Treg modulation of dendritic cells demonstrated, for the first time in experimental in vitro human GvHD, that this was due to ineffective effector T cell priming in the presence of Treg caused by impairment of dendritic cell functions. Comprehensive phenotypic and functional analysis of Treg treated moDC showed their decreased antigen processing ability and allostimulatory capacity, resulting in a less severe GvH reaction in the skin explant model. Furthermore, this work has revealed that despite Treg impairing in vitro GvL mechanisms at a cellular level there was no association observed between increased Treg levels and the incidence of relapse in a small clinical cohort of HSCT patients. In conclusion this study has provided further insight into the mechanisms by which Treg are able to modulate GvHD. This would inform future clinical trials using Treg as a therapeutic alternative to current GvHD treatment and prophylaxis.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:Institute of Cellular Medicine

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