Interleukin-27 Enforces Regulatory T Cell Functions to Prevent Graft-versus-Host Disease

Hongnga T. Le, Karen Keslar, Quang Tam Nguyen, Bruce R. Blazar, Betty K. Hamilton, Booki Min*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) remains a significant complication of allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT), associated with significant morbidity and mortality. GvHD is characterized by dysregulated immune responses and resulting tissue damage of target organs. Recent investigations have focused on Foxp3+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) as a therapeutic tool, based on its regulatory functions in GvHD pathogenesis and their instrumental role in mitigating GvHD severity while preserving graft-versus-leukemia (GvL) activity. There are several challenges to its clinical application, including their paucity, impaired suppressive activity, and instability in vivo. Herein, we report that IL-27 pre-stimulation enhances suppressive functions of both mouse and human Tregs. In a complete MHC mismatched murine bone marrow transplant model, IL-27 pre-stimulated polyclonal iTregs diminish acute (a)GvHD lethality, while preserving the GvL effect. Allo-antigen specificity further improves suppressive functions when combined with IL-27 pre-stimulation. In a xenogeneic (human to mouse) GvHD model, IL-27 pre-stimulated human iTregs are superior in protecting recipients from GvHD. Lastly, we compared gene expression profiles of circulating Tregs isolated from HCT recipients with and without aGvHD and found that Tregs from aGvHD patients express distinct gene signatures enriched in immune activation and inflammation. Therefore, these results highlight a novel function of IL-27 in enforcing Treg functions to prevent aGvHD mediated lethality, proposing the hypothesis that dysregulated Treg functions may account for the potential mechanisms underlying GvHD development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number181
JournalFrontiers in immunology
StatePublished - Feb 12 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • GvHD
  • IL-27
  • adoptive transfer
  • regulatory T cell
  • transplantation
  • xenogeneic GvHD

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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