Deficiency of CD73/ecto-5'-nucleotidase in mice enhances acute graft-versus-host disease.
ABSTRACT Extracellular ATP and adenosine have immunoregulatory roles during inflammation. Elevated extracellular ATP is known to exacerbate GVHD, and the pharmacologic activation of the adenosine A2A receptor is protective. However, the role of endogenous adenosine is unknown. We used gene-targeted mice and a pharmacologic inhibitor to test the role of adenosine generated by CD73/ecto-5'-nucleotidase in GVHD. In allogeneic transplants, both donor and recipient CD73 were protective, with recipient CD73 playing the dominant role. CD73 deficiency led to enhanced T-cell expansion and IFN-γ and IL-6 production, and the migratory capacity of Cd73-/- T cells in vitro was increased. However, the number of regulatory T cells and expression of costimulatory molecules on antigen-presenting cells were unchanged. A2A receptor deficiency led to increased numbers of allogeneic T cells, suggesting that signaling through the A2A receptor via CD73-generated adenosine is a significant part of the mechanism by which CD73 limits the severity of GVHD. Pharmacologic blockade of CD73 also enhanced graft-versus-tumor activity. These data have clinical implications, as both the severity of GVHD and the strength of an alloimmune antitumor response could be manipulated by enhancing or blocking CD73 activity or adenosine receptor signaling depending on the clinical indication.