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We investigated a case of acquired von Willebrand syndrome (AVWS) secondary to a nonneutralizing anti-von Willebrand factor (VWF) antibody associated with an autoimmune disorder. At diagnosis, VWF activity (VWF:Act), antigen (VWF:Ag), multimers, and factor VIII coagulant activity were virtually absent. VWF propeptide (VWFpp) was elevated with an infinitely high VWFpp to VWF:Ag ratio (VWFpp:Ag) consistent with rapid VWF clearance. Immunosuppressive treatment resulted in phenotypic remission 1 with normalization of VWF/factor VIII levels and multimer pattern. However, VWFpp:Ag remained elevated (~2x normal), consistent with ongoing VWF clearance by the remaining anti-VWF antibody still present by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. This suggests that increased VWF secretion was compensating for the incomplete remission state. Relapse occurred when VWFpp:Ag was again infinitely high, with associated decreased VWFpp but unchanged anti-VWF titers; switching the balance to favor VWF clearance over secretion. Complete remission with undetectable anti-VWF occurred only when VWFpp:Ag was normal. This case of relapsing-remitting AVWS demonstrates the use of VWFpp:Ag for predicting remission status.

The phagocytic function of macrophages plays a pivotal role in eliminating apoptotic cells and invading pathogens. Evidence implicating plasminogen (Plg), the zymogen of plasmin, in phagocytosis is extremely limited with the most recent in vitro study showing that plasmin acts on prey cells rather than on macrophages. Here, we use apoptotic thymocytes and immunoglobulin opsonized bodies to show that Plg exerts a profound effect on macrophage-mediated phagocytosis in vitro and in vivo. Plg enhanced the uptake of these prey by J774A.1 macrophage-like cells by 3.5- to fivefold Plg receptors and plasmin proteolytic activity were required for phagocytosis of both preys. Compared with Plg+/+ mice, Plg–/– mice exhibited a 60% delay in clearance of apoptotic thymocytes by spleen and an 85% reduction in uptake by peritoneal macrophages. Phagocytosis of antibody-mediated erythrocyte clearance by liver Kupffer cells was reduced by 90% in Plg–/– mice compared with Plg+/+ mice. A gene array of splenic and hepatic tissues from Plg–/– and Plg+/+ mice showed downregulation of numerous genes in Plg–/– mice involved in phagocytosis and regulation of phagocytic gene expression was confirmed in macrophage-like cells. Thus, Plg may play an important role in innate immunity by changing expression of genes that contribute to phagocytosis.

The P2Y12 inhibitors, clopidogrel, prasugrel, and ticagrelor, are administered in fixed doses without laboratory monitoring. Randomized trials in acute coronary syndrome have shown that prasugrel and ticagrelor are more effective than standard-dose clopidogrel. Nonetheless, standard-dose clopidogrel remains widely used because it causes less bleeding and is less expensive. Patients treated with standard-dose clopidogrel have substantial variability in platelet inhibition, which is partly explained by genetic polymorphisms encoding CYP2C19, the hepatic enzyme involved in biotransformation of clopidogrel to its active metabolite. Some advocate tailoring P2Y12 inhibitor therapy according to the results of routine laboratory testing. Although there is good evidence for analytic, biological, and clinical validity of several phenotypic and genotypic biomarkers, the benefit of a management strategy that incorporates routine biomarker testing over standard of care without such testing remains unproven. Appropriately designed, adequately powered trials are needed but face the challenges of feasibility, cost, and the progressive switch from clopidogrel to prasugrel or ticagrelor.

Innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) are lymphoid cells that do not express rearranged receptors and have important effector and regulatory functions in innate immunity and tissue remodeling. ILCs are categorized into 3 groups based on their distinct patterns of cytokine production and the requirement of particular transcription factors for their development and function. Group 1 ILCs (ILC1s) produce interferon and depend on Tbet, group 2 ILCs (ILC2s) produce type 2 cytokines like interleukin-5 (IL-5) and IL-13 and require GATA3, and group 3 ILCs (ILC3s) include lymphoid tissue inducer cells, produce IL-17 and/or IL-22, and are dependent on RORt. Whereas ILCs play essential roles in the innate immune system, uncontrolled activation and proliferation of ILCs can contribute to inflammatory autoimmune diseases. In this review, we provide an overview of the characteristics of ILCs in the context of health and disease. We will focus on human ILCs but refer to mouse studies if needed to clarify aspects of ILC biology.

It is now widely recognized that neutrophils are highly versatile and sophisticated cells that display de novo synthetic capacity and may greatly extend their lifespan. In addition, concepts such as "neutrophil heterogeneity" and "neutrophil plasticity" have started to emerge, implying that, under pathological conditions, neutrophils may differentiate into discrete subsets defined by distinct phenotypic and functional profiles. A number of studies have shown that neutrophils act as effectors in both innate and adaptive immunoregulatory networks. In fact, once recruited into inflamed tissues, neutrophils engage into complex bidirectional interactions with macrophages, natural killer, dendritic and mesenchymal stem cells, B and T lymphocytes, or platelets. As a result of this cross-talk, mediated either by contact-dependent mechanisms or cell-derived soluble factors, neutrophils and target cells reciprocally modulate their survival and activation status. Altogether, these novel aspects of neutrophil biology have shed new light not only on the potential complex roles that neutrophils play during inflammation and immune responses, but also in the pathogenesis of several inflammatory disorders including infection, autoimmunity, and cancer.

To define the role of radiotherapy and intrathecal prophylaxis in extralymphatic craniofacial involvement (ECFI) of aggressive B-cell lymphoma, we analyzed 11 consecutive German High-Grade Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Study Group trials. ECFI occurred in 290/4155 (7.0%) patients (orbita, 31; paranasal sinuses, 93; main nasal cavity, 38; tongue, 27; remaining oral cavity, 99; salivary glands, 54). In a multivariable analysis adjusted for International Prognostic Index rituximab improved event-free and overall survival both in patients with and without ECFI. Three-year event-free (79% vs 79%; P = .842) and overall survival (86% vs 88%; P = .351) rates were similar in 145 patients receiving and 57 not receiving radiotherapy. Without rituximab, the 2-year cumulative rate of central nervous system (CNS) disease was increased in 205 ECFI patients compared with 2586 non-ECFI patients (4.2% vs 2.8%; P = .038), whereas this was not observed with rituximab (1.6% in 83 ECFI vs 3.4% in 1252 non-ECFI patients; P = .682). In 88 ECFI patients who received intrathecal prophylaxis with methotrexate, the 2-year rate of CNS disease was 4.2% compared with 2.3% in 191 patients who did not (P = .981). In conclusion, rituximab eliminates the increased risk for CNS disease in patients with ECFI. This retrospective analysis does not support intrathecal prophylaxis or radiotherapy to ECFI patients in complete remission/unconfirmed complete remission. These findings should be confirmed in a prospective study.

Patients in complete cytogenetic response (CCyR) with detectable BCR-ABL1 after ≥2 years on imatinib were randomized to nilotinib (400 mg twice daily, n = 104) or continued imatinib (n = 103) in the Evaluating Nilotinib Efficacy and Safety in clinical Trials–Complete Molecular Response (ENESTcmr) trial. By 1 and 2 years, confirmed undetectable BCR-ABL1 was achieved by 12.5% vs 5.8% (P = .108) and 22.1% vs 8.7% of patients in the nilotinib and imatinib arms, respectively (P = .0087). Among patients without molecular response 4.5 (BCR-ABL1IS ≤0.0032%; MR4.5) and those without major molecular response at study start, MR4.5 by 2 years was achieved by 42.9% vs 20.8% and 29.2% vs 3.6% of patients in the nilotinib and imatinib arms, respectively. No patient in the nilotinib arm lost CCyR, vs 3 in the imatinib arm. Adverse events were more common in the nilotinib arm, as expected with the introduction of a new drug vs remaining on a well-tolerated drug. The safety profile of nilotinib was consistent with other reported studies. In summary, switching to nilotinib enabled more patients with chronic myeloid leukemia in chronic phase (CML-CP) to sustain lower levels of disease burden vs remaining on imatinib. This trial was registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov as #NCT00760877.

Differentiation of naïve CD4+ T cells into effector (Th1, Th2, and Th17) and induced regulatory (iTreg) T cells requires lineage-specifying transcription factors and epigenetic modifications that allow appropriate repression or activation of gene transcription. The epigenetic silencing of cytokine genes is associated with the repressive H3K27 trimethylation mark, mediated by the Ezh2 or Ezh1 methyltransferase components of the polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2). Here we show that silencing of the Ifng, Gata3, and Il10 loci in naïve CD4+ T cells is dependent on Ezh2. Naïve CD4+ T cells lacking Ezh2 were epigenetically primed for overproduction of IFN- in Th2 and iTreg and IL-10 in Th2 cells. In addition, deficiency of Ezh2 accelerated effector Th cell death via death receptor–mediated extrinsic and intrinsic apoptotic pathways, confirmed in vivo for Ezh2-null IFN-–producing CD4+ and CD8+ T cells responding to Listeria monocytogenes infection. These findings demonstrate the key role of PRC2/Ezh2 in differentiation and survival of peripheral T cells and reveal potential immunotherapeutic targets.

Myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) represent a heterogeneous population that shares certain characteristics including an aberrant myeloid phenotype and the ability to suppress T cells. MDSCs have been predominantly studied in malignant diseases and findings suggest involvement in tumor-associated immune suppression. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is the leukemia with the highest incidence among adults. Immune defects occur already at early disease stages and impact the clinical course. We assessed presence, frequency, association to other immune parameters, and functional properties of circulating CD14+ cells lacking HLA-DR expression (HLA-DRlo) in patients with untreated CLL. These monocytic cells represent one of the best-defined human MDSC subsets. Frequency of CD14+HLA-DRlo cells was significantly increased in CLL patients. Furthermore, MDSCs suppressed in vitro T-cell activation and induced suppressive regulatory T cells (TRegs). The MDSC-mediated modulation of T cells could be attributed to their increased indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) activity. CLL cells induced IDOhi MDSCs from healthy donor monocytes suggesting bidirectional crosstalk between CLL-cells, MDSCs, and TRegs. Overall, we identified a MDSC population that expands in CLL. The exact mechanisms responsible for such accumulation remain to be elucidated and it will be of interest to test whether antagonizing suppressive functions of CLL MDSCs could represent a mean for enhancing immune responses.

Patients with cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) are frequently colonized with Staphylococcus aureus (SA). Eradication of SA is, importantly, associated with significant clinical improvement, suggesting that SA promotes the disease activity, but the underlying mechanisms remain poorly characterized. Here, we show that SA isolates from involved skin express staphylococcal enterotoxins (SEs) that induce crosstalk between malignant and benign T cells leading to Stat3-mediated interleukin-10 (IL-10) production by the malignant T cells. The SEs did not stimulate the malignant T cells directly. Instead, SEs triggered a cascade of events involving cell-cell and asymmetric cytokine interactions between malignant and benign T cells, which stimulated the malignant T cells to express high levels of IL-10. Much evidence supports that malignant activation of the Stat3/IL-10 axis plays a key role in driving the immune dysregulation and severe immunodeficiency that characteristically develops in CTCL patients. The present findings thereby establish a novel link between SEs and immune dysregulation in CTCL, strengthening the rationale for antibiotic treatment of colonized patients with severe or progressive disease.

The Philadelphia chromosomal–negative chronic myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) originate at the level of the hematopoietic stem cell (HSC). The protracted clinical course of the MPNs has limited the use of potentially toxic treatment modalities, which may eliminate the responsible malignant clone. Treatment with low doses of RG7112, an orally available small-molecule inhibitor of p53-MDM2, both alone and combined with pegylated interferon α 2a (Peg-IFNα 2a), significantly decreased MPN colony-forming unit–granulocyte macrophage and burst-forming unit-erythroid numbers and preferentially eliminated the total number of JAKV617F+ MPN hematopoietic progenitor cells. The effects of RG7112 and Peg-IFNα 2a on MPN progenitor cells were dependent on blocking p53-MDM2 interactions and activating the p53 pathway, thereby increasing MPN CD34+ cell apoptosis. Treatment of polycythemia vera (PV) and primary myelofibrosis (PMF) CD34+ cells with low doses of RG7112 and Peg-IFNα 2a before their transplantation into immune-deficient mice decreased the degree of donor-derived chimerism as well as the JAK2V617F allele burden, indicating that these drugs can each alone or in combination deplete MPN HSCs. These results provide a rationale for the use of combinations of low doses of RG7112 and Peg-IFNα 2a for the treatment of PV or PMF patients with the intent of altering their natural history.

The myelodysplastic syndromes (MDSs) include a spectrum of stem cell malignancies characterized by an increased risk of developing acute myeloid leukemia. Heterozygous loss of chromosome 5q (del[5q]) is the most common cytogenetic abnormality in MDS. DIAPH1 is localized to 5q31 and encodes one of the formin proteins, mDia1, which is involved in linear actin polymerization. Mice with mDia1 deficiency develop hematologic features with age mimicking human myeloid neoplasm, but its role in the pathogenesis of MDS is unclear. Here we report that mDia1 heterozygous and knockout mice develop MDS phenotypes with age. In these mice, CD14 was aberrantly overexpressed on granulocytes in a cell-autonomous manner, leading to a hypersensitive innate immune response to lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimuli through CD14/Toll-like receptor 4 signaling. Chronic stimulation with LPS accelerated the development of MDS in mDia1 heterozygous and knockout mice that can be rescued by lenalidomide. Similar findings of CD14 overexpression were observed on the bone marrow granulocytes of del(5q) MDS patients. Mechanistically, mDia1 deficiency led to a downregulation of membrane-associated genes and a specific upregulation of CD14 messenger RNA in granulocytes, but not in other lineages. These results underscore the significance of mDia1 heterozygosity in deregulated innate immune responses in del(5q) MDS.

Viral infections have been associated with reduced platelet counts, the biological significance of which has remained elusive. Here, we show that infection with encephalomyocarditis virus (EMCV) rapidly reduces platelet count, and this response is attributed to platelet Toll-like receptor 7 (TLR7). Platelet-TLR7 stimulation mediates formation of large platelet-neutrophil aggregates, both in mouse and human blood. Intriguingly, this process results in internalization of platelet CD41-fragments by neutrophils, as assessed biochemically and visualized by microscopy, with no influence on platelet prothrombotic properties. The mechanism includes TLR7-mediated platelet granule release, translocation of P-selectin to the cell surface, and a consequent increase in platelet-neutrophil adhesion. Viral infection of platelet-depleted mice also led to increased mortality. Transfusion of wild-type, TLR7-expressing platelets into TLR7-deficient mice caused a drop in platelet count and increased survival post EMCV infection. Thus, this study identifies a new link between platelets and their response to single-stranded RNA viruses that involves activation of TLR7. Finally, platelet-TLR7 stimulation is independent of thrombosis and has implications to the host immune response and survival.

Mutations in human Krüppel-like factor 1 (KLF1) have recently been reported to be responsible for increased fetal hemoglobin (HbF) and hemoglobin A2 (HbA2). Because increased HbF and HbA2 levels are important features of β-thalassemia, we examined whether there is any relationship between KLF1 mutation and β-thalassemia in China. To do this, we first studied the incidence of KLF1 mutations in 2 Chinese populations: 3839 individuals from a thalassemia endemic region in south China and 1190 individuals from a nonthalassemia endemic region in north China. Interestingly, we found that the prevalence of KLF1 mutations is significantly higher in the thalassemia endemic region than that in nonthalassemia endemic region (1.25% vs 0.08%). Furthermore, we identified 7 functional variants including 4 previously reported (p.Gly176AlafsX179, p.Ala298Pro, p.Thr334Arg, and c.913+1G>A) and 3 novel variants (p.His299Asp, p.Cys341Tyr, and p.Glu5Lys) in southern China. The 2 most common mutations, p.Gly176AlafsX179 and p.His299Asp, accounted for 90.6% of the total. We found that zinc-finger mutations in KLF1 were selectively represented in 12 β-thalassemia intermedia patients and resulted in significantly different transfusion-free survival curves. Our findings suggest that KLF1 mutations occur selectively in the presence of β-thalassemia to increase the production of HbF, which in turn ameliorates the clinical severity of β-thalassemia.

Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is widely used to treat hematopoietic cell disorders but is often complicated by graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), which causes severe epithelial damage. Here we have investigated longitudinally the effects of induction chemotherapy, conditioning radiochemotherapy, and allogeneic HSCT on composition, phenotype, and recovery of circulating innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) in 51 acute leukemia patients. We found that reconstitution of ILC1, ILC2, and NCRILC3 was slow compared with that of neutrophils and monocytes. NCR+ ILC3 cells, which are not present in the circulation of healthy persons, appeared both after induction chemotherapy and after allogeneic HSCT. Circulating patient ILCs before transplantation, as well as donor ILCs after transplantation, expressed activation (CD69), proliferation (Ki-67), and tissue homing markers for gut (α4β7, CCR6) and skin (CCR10 and CLA). The proportion of ILCs expressing these markers was associated with a decreased susceptibility to therapy-induced mucositis and acute GVHD. Taken together, these data suggest that ILC recovery and treatment-related tissue damage are interrelated and affect the development of GVHD.

Twenty-three children with nonmalignant disorders received HLA-haploidentical hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (haplo-HSCT) after ex vivo elimination of αβ+ T cells and CD19+ B cells. The median number of CD34+, αβ+CD3+, and B cells infused was 16.8 x 106, 40 x 103, and 40 x 103 cells/kg, respectively. No patient received any posttransplantation pharmacologic prophylaxis for graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). All but 4 patients engrafted, these latter being rescued by a second allograft. Three patients experienced skin-only grade 1 to 2 acute GVHD. No patient developed visceral acute or chronic GVHD. Cumulative incidence of transplantation-related mortality was 9.3%. With a median follow-up of 18 months, 21 of 23 children are alive and disease-free, the 2-year probability of disease-free survival being 91.1%. Recovery of + T cells was prompt, but αβ+ T cells progressively ensued over time. Our data suggest that this novel graft manipulation strategy is safe and effective for haplo-HSCT. This trial was registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov as #NCT01810120.