Abrogation of donor T-cell IL-21 signaling leads to tissue-specific modulation of immunity and separation of GVHD from GVL Academic Article uri icon


MeSH Major

  • Graft vs Host Disease
  • Graft vs Leukemia Effect
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Interleukins
  • T-Lymphocytes
  • Tissue Donors


  • IL-21 is a proinflammatory cytokine produced by Th17 cells. Abrogation of IL-21 signaling has recently been shown to reduce GVHD while retaining graft-versus-leukemia/lymphoma (GVL) responses. However, the mechanisms by which IL-21 may lead to a separation of GVHD and GVL remain incompletely understood. In a murine MHC-mismatched BM transplantation model, we observed that IL-21 receptor knockout (IL-21R KO) donor T cells mediate decreased systemic and gastrointestinal GVHD in recipients of a transplant. This reduction in GVHD was associated with expansion of transplanted donor regulatory T cells and with tissue-specific modulation of Th-cell function. IL-21R KO and wild-type donor T cells showed equivalent alloactivation, but IL-21R KO T cells showed decreased infiltration and inflammatory cytokine production within the mesenteric lymph nodes. However, Th-cell cytokine production was maintained peripherally, and IL-21R KO T cells mediated equivalent immunity against A20 and P815 hematopoietic tumors. In summary, abrogation of IL-21 signaling in donor T cells leads to tissue-specific modulation of immunity, such that gastrointestinal GVHD is reduced, but peripheral T-cell function and GVL capacity are retained. IL-21 is thus an exciting target for therapeutic intervention and improvement of clinical transplantation outcomes.

publication date

  • July 14, 2011



  • Academic Article



  • eng

PubMed Central ID

  • PMC3138694

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1182/blood-2010-07-294785

PubMed ID

  • 21596854

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 446

end page

  • 55


  • 118


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