Graft-Derived Reconstitution of Mucosal-Associated Invariant T Cells after Allogeneic Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation


Mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells express a semi-invariant Vα7.2+ T cell receptor (TCR) that recognizes ligands from distinct bacterial and fungal species. In neonates, MAIT cells proliferate coincident with gastrointestinal (GI) bacterial colonization. In contrast, under noninflammatory conditions adult MAIT cells remain quiescent because of acquired regulation of TCR signaling. Effects of inflammation and the altered GI microbiota after allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) on MAIT cell reconstitution have not been described. We conducted an observational study of MAIT cell reconstitution in myeloablative (n = 41) and nonmyeloablative (n = 66) allogeneic HCT recipients and found that despite a rapid and early increase to a plateau at day 30 after HCT, MAIT cell numbers failed to normalize for at least 1 year. Cord blood transplant recipients and those who received post-HCT cyclophosphamide for graft versus host disease (GVHD) prophylaxis had profoundly impaired MAIT cell reconstitution. Sharing of TCRβ gene sequences between MAIT cells isolated from HCT grafts and blood of recipients after HCT showed early MAIT cell reconstitution was due at least in part to proliferation of MAIT cells transferred in the HCT graft. Inflammatory cytokines were required for TCR-dependent MAIT cell proliferation, suggesting that bacterial Vα7.2+ TCR ligands might promote MAIT cell reconstitution after HCT. Robust MAIT cell reconstitution was associated with an increased GI abundance of Blautia spp. MAIT cells suppressed proliferation of conventional T cells consistent with a possible regulatory role. Our data identify modifiable factors impacting MAIT cell reconstitution that could influence the risk of GVHD after HCT.

Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation: Journal of the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation