Type I interferon signaling before hematopoietic stem cell transplantation lowers donor T cell activation via reduced allogenicity of recipient cells

Fischer, J. C., Bscheider, M., Gottert, S., Thiele Orberg, E., Combs, S. E., Bassermann, F., Heidegger, S., Haas, T., Poeck, H. (2019). Sci Rep 9, 14955.

DOI:10.1038/s41598-019-51431-2(link is external)


Recent studies highlight immunoregulatory functions of type I interferons (IFN-I) during the pathogenesis of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT). We demonstrated that selective activation of IFN-I pathways including RIG-I/MAVS and cGAS/STING prior to allo-HSCT conditioning therapy can ameliorate the course of GVHD. However, direct effects of IFN-Is on immune cells remain ill characterized. We applied RIG-I agonists (3pRNA) to stimulate IFN-I production in murine models of conditioning therapy with total body irradiation (TBI) and GVHD. Using IFN-I receptor-deficient donor T cells and hematopoietic cells, we found that endogenous and RIG-I-induced IFN-Is do not reduce GVHD by acting on these cell types. However, 3pRNA applied before conditioning therapy reduced the ability of CD11c+ recipient cells to stimulate proliferation and interferon gamma expression of allogeneic T cells. Consistently, RIG-I activation before TBI reduced the proliferation of transplanted allogeneic T-cells. The reduced allogenicity of CD11c+ recipient cells was dependent on IFN-I signaling. Notably, this immunosuppressive function of DCs was restricted to a scenario where tissue damage occurs. Our findings uncover a context (damage by TBI) and IFN-I dependent modulation of T cells by DCs and extend the understanding about the cellular targets of IFN-I during allo-HSCT and GVHD.