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Human effector memory T helper cells engage with mouse macrophages and cause Graft-versus-Host-like pathology in skin of humanized mice used in a nonclinical immunization study

: Sundarasetty, Balasai; Volk, Valery; Theobald, Sebastian J.; Rittinghausen, Susanne; Schaudien, Dirk; Neuhaus, Vanessa; Figueiredo, Constanca; Schneider, Andreas; Gerasch, Laura; Mucci, Adele; Moritz, Thomas; Kaisenberg, Constantin von; Spineli, Loukia M.; Sewald, Katherina; Braun, Armin; Weigt, Henning; Ganser, Arnold; Stripecke, Renata


The American journal of pathology 187 (2017), Nr.6, S.1380-1398
ISSN: 0002-9440
Fraunhofer ITEM ()
immunopathology; infectious disease

Humanized mice engrafted with human hematopoietic stem cells and developing functional human T-cell adaptive responses are in critical demand to test human-specific therapeutics. We previously showed that humanized mice immunized with long-lived induced-dendritic cells loaded with the pp65 viral antigen (iDCpp65) exhibited a faster development and maturation of T cells. Herein, we evaluated these effects in a long-term (36 weeks) nonclinical model using two stem cell donors to assess efficacy and safety. Relative to baseline, iDCpp65 immunization boosted the output of effector memory CD4+ T cells in peripheral blood and lymph nodes. No weight loss, human malignancies, or systemic graft-versus-host (GVH) disease were observed. However, for one reconstitution cohort, some mice immunized with iDCpp65 showed GVH-like signs on the skin. Histopathology analyses of the inflamed skin revealed intrafollicular and perifollicular human CD4+ cells near F4/80+ mouse macrophages around hair follicles. In spleen, CD4+ cells formed large clusters surrounded by mouse macrophages. In plasma, high levels of human T helper 2-type inflammatory cytokines were detectable, which activated in vitro the STAT5 pathway of murine macrophages. Despite this inflammatory pattern, human CD8+ T cells from mice with GVH reacted against the pp65 antigen in vitro. These results uncover a dynamic cross-species interaction between human memory T cells and mouse macrophages in the skin and lymphatic tissues of humanized mice.