Stem cell transplantation has become a widely used procedure in the treatment of haematological and non-haematological clinical disorders. Unfortunately, cure is often hampered by relapse of the underlying disease, graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), or severe opportunistic infections. Slow T-cell reconstitution is regarded as primarily responsible for infections, GVHD, and relapse, therefore, enhancing immune reconstitution is important. Glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK3β) was recently identified as an important regulator of T cell function acting through the Wingless (Wnt) pathway. The effect of in vivo administration of GSK3β inhibitor 6-Bromoindirubin 3'-oxime (BIO) was examined in a humanised mouse model. Mice transplanted with highly purified cord blood CD34+ stem cells demonstrated efficient multilineage reconstitution including myeloid, B and T cell lymphoid compartments. The presence of human CD4 and CD8 single positive human T cells was abundant in peripheral blood (PB). De novo generated T cells exhibited low CD31 expression in the naïve CD4+ T cells suggesting prolonged post-thymic proliferative history of these cells. This is not completely surprising considering that graft recipient mice are characterized by impaired thymopoiesis following irradiation. Human T cells at various stages of differentiation including late effector T cells were recorded by detecting the expression of CD62L, CD45RA and CD45RO. Late memory T cell skewing was observed in PB and spleen of graft recipient mice. Activation of human T cells expressing CD25 was registered in the spleen, however, the recipients of the graft did not exhibit any signs of GVHD suggesting normal positive and negative selection occurring in the thymus during human T cell development in this mouse model. Human T cells isolated from the spleen of transplanted mice exhibited strong proliferative responses to mitogenic and allogeneic stimulation, however, they did not demonstrated any CTL activity tested following vaccination with human leukaemia U937 cells. In vivo administration of GSK3β inhibitor promoted T cell reconstitution in mice transplanted with human CD34+haematopoietic progenitor cells. Per cell output of T cells from CD34+ and CD34+CD38- primitive bone marrow (BM) progenitor cells was higher in BIO-treated mice while CD19+ B cell output was reduced suggesting T-cell developmental skewing in expense of B cell development. In vitro analysis of CD34+ progenitor cells co-cultured with bone marrow stroma MS5 cells has demonstrated inhibited B-cell development following BIO-treatment. CD31 expression in naïve CD4+ T cells was not up-regulated by BIO suggesting that GSK3β inhibition does not act to increase thymic output of T cells. GSK3β inhibition also increased naïve/memory T cell ratio in reconstituted mice. A similar effect was observed in mice transplanted with mature cord blood (CB)-derived T cells. delayed naive to memory T cell transition is likely related to decreased T cell activation and proliferation demonstrated ex vivo. BIO reduced IFNγ and TNFα production in human T cells. BIO increased naïve T cell production in mitogenically stimulated T cells and in mixed lymphocyte cultures. GSK3β inhibition preserved naïve T cell gene expression profile and suppressed the expression of genes activated during effector T cell differentiation. BIO actrivated β-catenin sigbnaling and up-regulated IL7Rα expression. IL7 signalling prevents activated T cell death following effector differentiation suggesting that the mechanism triggered by BIO may act through the inhibition of activated T cell death. In addition, BIO down-regulated negative regulator of IL7Rα SOCS1 as well as CTLA4 and PDCD1 both up-regulated during effector differentiation. Thus clinically GSK3β inhibition acting to prevent late memory T cell skewing and preserving a subset of naïve T cells may increase T cell diversity and improve T cell responses in the recipients of CB transplant particularly in adult patients with impaired thymic function.
No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.