Dawn K Schirm

University of Minnesota Duluth, Duluth, Minnesota, United States

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Publications (3)31.98 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: In rodent graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) models, anti-IL-21 neutralizing mAb treatment ameliorates lethality and is associated with decreases in Th1 cytokine production and gastrointestinal tract injury. GVHD prevention was dependent on the in vivo generation of donor-inducible regulatory T cells (Tregs). To determine whether the IL-21 pathway might be targeted for GVHD prevention, skin and colon samples obtained from patients with no GVHD or grade 2 to 4 GVHD were analyzed for IL-21 protein expression. By immunohistochemistry staining, IL-21 protein-producing cells were present in all gastrointestinal tract samples and 54% of skin samples obtained from GVHD patients but not GVHD-free controls. In a human xenogeneic GVHD model, human IL-21-secreting cells were present in the colon of GVHD recipients and were associated with elevated serum IL-21 levels. A neutralizing anti-human IL-21 mAb given prophylactically significantly reduced GVHD-associated weight loss and mortality, resulting in a concomitant increase in Tregs and a decrease in T cells secreting IFN-γ or granzyme B. Based on these findings, anti-IL-21 mAb could be considered for GVHD prevention in the clinic.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2011 · Blood
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    ABSTRACT: Adoptive transfer of thymus-derived natural regulatory T cells (nTregs) effectively suppresses disease in murine models of autoimmunity and graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). TGFß induces Foxp3 expression and suppressive function in stimulated murine CD4+25- T cells, and these induced Treg (iTregs), like nTreg, suppress auto- and allo-reactivity in vivo. However, while TGFß induces Foxp3 expression in stimulated human T cells, the expanded cells lack suppressor cell function. Here we show that Rapamycin (Rapa) enhances TGFß-dependent Foxp3 expression and induces a potent suppressor function in naive (CD4+ 25-45RA+) T cells. Rapa/TGFß iTregs are anergic, express CD25 at levels higher than expanded nTregs and few cells secrete IL-2, IFNγ or IL-17 even after PMA and Ionomycin stimulation in vitro. Unlike other published methods of inducing Treg function, Rapa/TGFß induces suppressive function even in the presence of memory CD4+ T cells. A single apheresis unit of blood yields an average ~240 × 10⁹ (range ~ 70-560 × 10⁹) iTregs from CD4+25- T cells in ≤ 2 weeks of culture. Most importantly, Rapa/TGFß iTregs suppress disease in a xenogeneic model of GVHD. This study opens the door for iTreg cellular therapy for human diseases.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2011 · American Journal of Transplantation
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    ABSTRACT: Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) is a frequent and severe complication after hematopoietic cell transplantation. Natural CD4(+)CD25(+) regulatory T cells (nT(regs)) have proven highly effective in preventing GVHD and autoimmunity in murine models. Yet, clinical application of nT(regs) has been severely hampered by their low frequency and unfavorable ex vivo expansion properties. Previously, we demonstrated that umbilical cord blood (UCB) nT(regs) could be purified and expanded in vitro using good manufacturing practice (GMP) reagents; however, the initial number of nT(regs) in UCB units is limited, and average yield after expansion was only 1 × 10(9) nT(regs). Therefore, we asked whether yield could be increased by using peripheral blood (PB), which contains far larger quantities of nT(regs). PB nT(regs) were purified under GMP conditions and expanded 80-fold to yield 19 × 10(9) cells using anti-CD3 antibody-loaded, cell-based artificial antigen-presenting cells (aAPCs) that expressed the high-affinity Fc receptor and CD86. A single restimulation increased expansion to ~3000-fold and yield to >600 × 10(9) cells while maintaining Foxp3 expression and suppressor function. nT(reg) expansion was ~50 million-fold when flow sort-purified nT(regs) were restimulated four times with aAPCs. Indeed, cryopreserved donor nT(regs) restimulated four times significantly reduced GVHD lethality induced by the infusion of human T cells into immune-deficient mice. The capability to efficiently produce donor cell banks of functional nT(regs) could transform the treatment of GVHD and autoimmunity by providing an off-the-shelf, cost-effective, and proven cellular therapy.
    No preview · Article · May 2011 · Science translational medicine