Publications of Grégory Ehx
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See detailBamQuery: A new proteogenomic tool to explore the immunopeptidome and validate tumor‐specific antigens
Ruiz, Maria Virginia; Apavaloaei, Anca; Zhao, Qingchuan et al

in European Journal of Immunology (2021, August), 51(S1), 60

MHC class I–associated peptides (MAPs), collectively referred to as the immunopeptidome, have a pivotal role in cancer immunosurveillance. While MAPs were long thought to be solely generated by the ... [more ▼]

MHC class I–associated peptides (MAPs), collectively referred to as the immunopeptidome, have a pivotal role in cancer immunosurveillance. While MAPs were long thought to be solely generated by the degradation of canonical proteins, recent advances in the field of proteogenomics (genomically-informed proteomics) evidenced that ∼10% of MAPs originate from allegedly noncoding genomic sequences. Among these sequences, the endogenous retroelements (EREs) are under intense scrutiny as a possible source of cancer-specific antigens (TSAs). With the increasing number of cancer-oriented immunopeptidomic and proteogenomic studies comes the need to accurately attribute an RNA expression level to each MAP identified by mass-spectrometry. Here, we introduce BamQuery (BQ), a computational tool to count all reads able to code for any MAP in any RNA-seq data chosen by the user, and to annotate each MAP with all available biological features. Using BQ, we found that most canonical MAPs can derive from an average of two different genomic regions, whereas most tested ERE-derived MAPs can be generated by numerous (median of 210) different genomic regions and RNA transcripts. We show that published ERE MAPs considered as TSA candidates can be coded by numerous other genomic regions than those previously studied, resulting in high undetected expression in normal tissues. We also show that some mutated neoantigens previously published as presumably specific anti-cancer targets can in fact be generated by other non-mutated, non-coding, widely expressed RNA-seq reads in normal tissues. We therefore conclude that BQ could become an essential tool in any TSA-identification/validation pipelines in the near future. [less ▲]

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See detailPredictors of neutralizing antibody response to BNT162b2 vaccination in allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients.
Canti, Lorenzo ULiege; Humblet-Baron, Stéphanie; Desombere, Isabelle et al

in Journal of hematology & oncology (2021), 14(1), 174

BACKGROUND: Factors affecting response to SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccine in allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HCT) recipients remain to be elucidated. METHODS: Forty allo-HCT recipients ... [more ▼]

BACKGROUND: Factors affecting response to SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccine in allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HCT) recipients remain to be elucidated. METHODS: Forty allo-HCT recipients were included in a study of immunization with BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine at days 0 and 21. Binding antibodies (Ab) to SARS-CoV-2 receptor binding domain (RBD) were assessed at days 0, 21, 28, and 49 while neutralizing Ab against SARS-CoV-2 wild type (NT50) were assessed at days 0 and 49. Results observed in allo-HCT patients were compared to those obtained in 40 healthy adults naive of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Flow cytometry analysis of peripheral blood cells was performed before vaccination to identify potential predictors of Ab responses. RESULTS: Three patients had detectable anti-RBD Ab before vaccination. Among the 37 SARS-CoV-2 naive patients, 20 (54%) and 32 (86%) patients had detectable anti-RBD Ab 21 days and 49 days postvaccination. Comparing anti-RBD Ab levels in allo-HCT recipients and healthy adults, we observed significantly lower anti-RBD Ab levels in allo-HCT recipients at days 21, 28 and 49. Further, 49% of allo-HCT patients versus 88% of healthy adults had detectable NT50 Ab at day 49 while allo-HCT recipients had significantly lower NT50 Ab titers than healthy adults (P = 0.0004). Ongoing moderate/severe chronic GVHD (P < 0.01) as well as rituximab administration in the year prior to vaccination (P < 0.05) correlated with low anti-RBD and NT50 Ab titers at 49 days after the first vaccination in multivariate analyses. Compared to healthy adults, allo-HCT patients without chronic GVHD or rituximab therapy had comparable anti-RBD Ab levels and NT50 Ab titers at day 49. Flow cytometry analyses before vaccination indicated that Ab responses in allo-HCT patients were strongly correlated with the number of memory B cells and of naive CD4(+) T cells (r > 0.5, P < 0.01) and more weakly with the number of follicular helper T cells (r = 0.4, P = 0.01). CONCLUSIONS: Chronic GVHD and rituximab administration in allo-HCT recipients are associated with reduced Ab responses to BNT162b2 vaccination. Immunological markers could help identify allo-HCT patients at risk of poor Ab response to mRNA vaccination. TRIAL REGISTRATION: The study was registered at clinicaltrialsregister.eu on 11 March 2021 (EudractCT # 2021-000673-83). [less ▲]

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See detailMCL-1 inhibitors, fast-lane development of a new class of anti-cancer agents.
Bolomsky, Arnold; Vogler, Meike; Köse, Murat Cem ULiege et al

in Journal of hematology & oncology (2020), 13(1), 173

Cell death escape is one of the most prominent features of tumor cells and closely linked to the dysregulation of members of the Bcl-2 family of proteins. Among those, the anti-apoptotic family member ... [more ▼]

Cell death escape is one of the most prominent features of tumor cells and closely linked to the dysregulation of members of the Bcl-2 family of proteins. Among those, the anti-apoptotic family member myeloid cell leukemia-1 (MCL-1) acts as a master regulator of apoptosis in various human malignancies. Irrespective of its unfavorable structure profile, independent research efforts recently led to the generation of highly potent MCL-1 inhibitors that are currently evaluated in clinical trials. This offers new perspectives to target a so far undruggable cancer cell dependency. However, a detailed understanding about the tumor and tissue type specific implications of MCL-1 are a prerequisite for the optimal (i.e., precision medicine guided) use of this novel drug class. In this review, we summarize the major functions of MCL-1 with a special focus on cancer, provide insights into its different roles in solid vs. hematological tumors and give an update about the (pre)clinical development program of state-of-the-art MCL-1 targeting compounds. We aim to raise the awareness about the heterogeneous role of MCL-1 as drug target between, but also within tumor entities and to highlight the importance of rationale treatment decisions on a case by case basis. [less ▲]

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See detailIn Vitro Th17-Polarized Human CD4(+) T Cells Exacerbate Xenogeneic Graft-versus-Host Disease.
Delens, Loïc ULiege; Ehx, Gregory ULiege; SOMJA, Joan ULiege et al

in Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation (2019), 25

Acute graft-versus-host disease (aGVHD) is a severe complication of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. The role of Th17 cells in its pathophysiology remains a matter of debate. In this ... [more ▼]

Acute graft-versus-host disease (aGVHD) is a severe complication of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. The role of Th17 cells in its pathophysiology remains a matter of debate. In this study, we assessed whether enrichment of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) with in vitro Th17-polarized CD4(+) T cells would exacerbate xenogeneic GVHD (xGVHD) into NOD-scid IL-2Rgamma null (NSG) mice. Naive human CD4(+) T cells were stimulated under Th17-skewing conditions for 8 to 10 days and then coinjected in NSG mice with fresh PBMCs from the same donor. We observed that Th17-polarized cells engrafted and migrated toward xGVHD target organs. They also acquired a double-expressing IL-17A(+)IFNgamma(+) profile in vivo. Importantly, cotransfer of Th17-polarized cells (1x10(6)) with PBMCs (1x10(6)) exacerbated xGVHD compared with transplantation of PBMCs alone (2x10(6)). Furthermore, PBMC cotransfer with Th17-polarized cells was more potent for xGVHD induction than cotransfer with naive CD4(+) T cells stimulated in nonpolarizing conditions (Th0 cells, 1x10(6)+1x10(6) PBMCs) or with Th1-polarized cells (1x10(6)+1x10(6) PBMCs). In summary, our results suggest that human Th17-polarized cells can cooperate with PBMCs and be pathogenic in the NSG xGVHD model. [less ▲]

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See detailComparison of Mesenchymal Stromal Cells From Different Origins for the Treatment of Graft-vs.-Host-Disease in a Humanized Mouse Model.
Grégoire, Céline ULiege; Ritacco, Caroline ULiege; Hannon, Muriel ULiege et al

in Frontiers in Immunology (2019), 10

Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) have potent immunomodulatory properties that make them an attractive tool against graft- vs.-host disease (GVHD). However, despite promising results in phase I/II studies ... [more ▼]

Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) have potent immunomodulatory properties that make them an attractive tool against graft- vs.-host disease (GVHD). However, despite promising results in phase I/II studies, bone marrow (BM-) derived MSCs failed to demonstrate their superiority over placebo in the sole phase III trial reported thus far. MSCs from different tissue origins display different characteristics, but their therapeutic benefits have never been directly compared in GVHD. Here, we compared the impact of BM-, umbilical cord (UC-), and adipose-tissue (AT-) derived MSCs on T-cell function in vitro and assessed their efficacy for the treatment of GVHD induced by injection of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells in NOD-scid IL-2Rgamma(null) HLA-A2/HHD mice. In vitro, resting BM- and AT-MSCs were more potent than UC-MSCs to inhibit lymphocyte proliferation, whereas UC- and AT-MSCs induced a higher regulatory T-cell (CD4(+)CD25(+)FoxP3(+))/T helper 17 ratio. Interestingly, AT-MSCs and UC-MSCs activated the coagulation pathway at a higher level than BM-MSCs. In vivo, AT-MSC infusions were complicated by sudden death in 4 of 16 animals, precluding an analysis of their efficacy. Intravenous MSC infusions (UC- or BM- combined) failed to significantly increase overall survival (OS) in an analysis combining data from 80 mice (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.59, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.32-1.08, P = 0.087). In a sensitivity analysis we also compared OS in control vs. each MSC group separately. The results for the BM-MSC vs. control comparison was HR = 0.63 (95% CI 0.30-1.34, P = 0.24) while the figures for the UC-MSC vs. control comparison was HR = 0.56 (95% CI 0.28-1.10, P = 0.09). Altogether, these results suggest that MSCs from various origins have different effects on immune cells in vitro and in vivo. However, none significantly prevented death from GVHD. Finally, our data suggest that the safety profile of AT-MSC and UC-MSC need to be closely monitored given their pro-coagulant activities in vitro. [less ▲]

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See detailXenogeneic graft-versus-host disease in humanized NSG and NSG-HLA-A2/HHD mice
Ehx, Grégory ULiege; SOMJA, Joan ULiege; Warnatz, Hans-Jörg et al

in Frontiers in Immunology (2018), 9

Despite the increasing use of humanized mouse models to study new approaches of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) prevention, the pathogenesis of xenogeneic GVHD (xGVHD) in these models remains ... [more ▼]

Despite the increasing use of humanized mouse models to study new approaches of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) prevention, the pathogenesis of xenogeneic GVHD (xGVHD) in these models remains misunderstood. The aim of this study is to describe this pathogenesis in NOD/LtSz-PrkdcscidIL2rgtm1Wjl (NSG) mice infused with human PBMCs and to assess the impact of the expression of HLA-A0201 by NSG mice cells (NSG-HLA-A2/HHD mice) on xGVHD and graft-versus-leukemia (GvL) effects, by taking advantage of next-generation technologies. We found that T cells recovered from NSG mice after transplantation had upregulated expression of genes involved in cell proliferation, as well as in TCR, co-stimulatory, IL-2/STAT5, mTOR and Aurora kinase A pathways. T cells had mainly an effector memory or an effector phenotype and exhibited a Th1/Tc1-skewed differentiation. TCRb repertoire diversity wasmarkedly lower both in the spleen and lungs (a xGVHD target organ) than at infusion. There was no correlation between the frequencies of specific clonotypes at baseline and in transplanted mice. Finally, expression of HLA-A0201 by NSG mice led to more severe xGVHD and enhanced GvL effects toward HLA-A2+ leukemic cells. Altogether our data demonstrate that the pathogenesis of xGVHD shares important features with human GVHD and that NSG-HLA-A2/HHD mice could serve as better model to study GVHD and GvL effects. [less ▲]

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See detailAzacytidine prevents experimental xenogeneic graft-versus-host disease without abrogating graft-versus-leukemia effects
Ehx, Grégory ULiege; Fransolet, Gilles ULiege; De Leval, Laurence et al

in Oncoimmunology (2017)

The demethylating agent 5-azacytidine (AZA) has proven its efficacy as treatment for myelodysplastic syndrome and acute myeloid leukemia. In addition, AZA can demethylate FOXP3 intron 1 (FOXP3i1) leading ... [more ▼]

The demethylating agent 5-azacytidine (AZA) has proven its efficacy as treatment for myelodysplastic syndrome and acute myeloid leukemia. In addition, AZA can demethylate FOXP3 intron 1 (FOXP3i1) leading to the generation of regulatory T cells (Treg). Here, we investigated the impact of AZA on xenogeneic graft-versus-host disease (xGVHD) and graft-versus-leukemia effects in a humanized murine model of transplantation (human PBMCs-infused NSG mice), and described the impact of the drug on human T cells in vivo. We observed that AZA improved both survival and xGVHD scores. Further, AZA significantly decreased human T-cell proliferation as well as IFN-γ and TNF-α serum levels, and reduced the expression of GRANZYME B and PERFORIN 1 by cytotoxic T cells. In addition, AZA significantly increased Treg frequency through hypomethylation of FOXP3i1 as well as increased Treg proliferation. The later was subsequent to higher STAT5 signaling in Treg from AZA-treated mice, which resulted from higher IL-2 secretion by conventional T cells from AZA-treated mice itself secondary to demethylation of the IL-2 gene promoter by AZA. Importantly, Tregs harvested from AZA-treated mice were suppressive and stable over time since they persisted at high frequency in secondary transplant experiments. Finally, graft-versus-leukemia effects (assessed by growth inhibition of THP-1 cells, transfected to express the luciferase gene) were not abrogated by AZA. In summary, our data demonstrate that AZA prevents xGVHD without abrogating graft-versus-leukemia effects. These findings could serve of basis for further studies of GVHD prevention by AZA in acute myeloid leukemia patients offered an allogeneic transplantation. [less ▲]

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See detailLimited Impact of Imatinib in a Murine Model of Sclerodermatous Chronic Graft-versus-Host Disease
Belle, Ludovic ULiege; Fransolet, Gilles ULiege; Somja, Joan ULiege et al

in PLoS ONE (2016), 11

Background Sclerodermatous chronic Graft-versus-Host Disease (scl-cGVHD) is one of the most severe form of cGVHD. The Platelet-derived Grotwth Factor (PDGF) and the Transforming Growth Factor-β (TGF-β ... [more ▼]

Background Sclerodermatous chronic Graft-versus-Host Disease (scl-cGVHD) is one of the most severe form of cGVHD. The Platelet-derived Grotwth Factor (PDGF) and the Transforming Growth Factor-β (TGF-β) play a significant role in the fibrosing process occurring in scl-cGVHD. This prompted us to assess the impact of the PDGF-r and c-Abl tyrosine kinase inhibitor imatinib on scl-cGVHD. Methods To assess the impact of imatinib on T cell subset proliferation in vivo, Balb/cJ recipient mice were lethally (7 Gy) irradiated and then injected with 10x106 bone marrow cells from B10.D2 mice on day 0. Fourteen days later, 70x106 carboxyfluorescein succinimidyl ester (CFSE)-labeled splenocytes from B10.D2 mice were infused and imatinib or sterile water was administered for 5 days. To induce severe scl-cGVHD, Balb/cJ mice were injected i.v. with 10.106 bone marrow cells and 70.106 splenocytes from B10.D2 donor mice after 7 Gy irradiation. Mice were then given sterile water or imatinib from day +7 after transplantation to the end of the experiment (day +52). Results Imatinib decreased the proliferation of total T cells (P = 0.02), CD8+ T cells (P = 0.01), and of regulatory T cells (Tregs) (P = 0.02) in the spleen. In the severe scl-cGVHD model, imatinib-treated mice had significantly lower levels of PDGF-r phosphorylation than control mice on day 29 after transplantation (P = 0.008). However, scl-cGVHD scores were similar between vehicle- and imatinib-treated mice during the whole experiment, while there was a suggestion for less weight loss in imatinib-treated mice that reached statistical significance at day +52 following transplantation (P = 0.02). [less ▲]

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See detailAzacytidine mitigates experimental sclerodermic chronic graft-versus-host disease
Fransolet, Gilles ULiege; Ehx, Grégory ULiege; SOMJA, Joan ULiege et al

in Journal of Hematology and Oncology (2016), 9

Background <br />Previous studies have demonstrated that regulatory T cells (Tregs) play a protective role in the pathogenesis of chronic graft-versus-host disease (cGVHD). Tregs constitutively express ... [more ▼]

Background <br />Previous studies have demonstrated that regulatory T cells (Tregs) play a protective role in the pathogenesis of chronic graft-versus-host disease (cGVHD). Tregs constitutively express the gene of the transcription factor Foxp3 whose CNS2 region is heavily methylated in conventional CD4+ T cells (CD4+Tconvs) but demethylated in Tregs. <br />Methods <br />Here, we assessed the impact of azacytidine (AZA) on cGVHD in a well-established murine model of sclerodermic cGVHD (B10.D2 (H-2d) → BALB/cJ (H-2d)). <br />Results <br />The administration of AZA every 48 h from day +10 to day +30 at the dose of 0.5 mg/kg or 2 mg/kg mitigated chronic GVHD. Further, AZA-treated mice exhibited higher blood and thymic Treg frequencies on day +35, as well as higher demethylation levels of the Foxp3 enhancer and the IL-2 promoter in splenocytes at day +52. Interestingly, Tregs from AZA-treated mice expressed more frequently the activation marker CD103 on day +52. AZA-treated mice had also lower counts of CD4+Tconvs and CD8+ T cells from day +21 to day +35 after transplantation, as well as a lower proportion of CD4+Tconvs expressing the Ki67 antigen on day +21 demonstrating an anti-proliferating effect of the drug on T cells. <br />Conclusions <br />Our results indicate that AZA prevented sclerodermic cGVHD in a well-established murine model of cGVHD. These data might serve as the basis for a pilot study of AZA administration for cGVHD prevention in patients at high risk for cGVHD. [less ▲]

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See detailNovel approaches for preventing acute graftversus- host disease after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation
SERVAIS, Sophie ULiege; BEGUIN, Yves ULiege; Delens, Loïc ULiege et al

in Expert Opinion on Investigational Drugs (2016), 9

Introduction Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (alloHSCT) offers potential curative treatment for a wide range of malignant and nonmalignant hematological disorders. However, its success ... [more ▼]

Introduction Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (alloHSCT) offers potential curative treatment for a wide range of malignant and nonmalignant hematological disorders. However, its success may be limited by post-transplant acute graft-versus-host disease (aGVHD), a systemic syndrome in which donor’s immune cells attack healthy tissues in the immunocompromised host. aGVHD is one of the main causes of morbidity and mortality after alloHSCT. Despite standard GVHD prophylaxis regimens, aGVHD still develops in approximately 40–60% of alloHSCT recipients. Areas covered In this review, after a brief summary of current knowledge on the pathogenesis of aGVHD, the authors review the current combination of a calcineurin inhibitor with an antimetabolite with or without added anti-thymocyte globulin (ATG) and emerging strategies for GVHD prevention. Expert opinion A new understanding of the involvement of cytokines, intracellular signaling pathways, epigenetics and immunoregulatory cells in GVHD pathogenesis will lead to new standards for aGVHD prophylaxis allowing better prevention of severe aGVHD without affecting graft-versus-tumor effects. [less ▲]

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See detailThe Prosurvival IKK-Related Kinase IKK« Integrates LPS and IL17A Signaling Cascades to Promote Wnt-Dependent Tumor Development in the Intestine
Göktuna, Serkan ULiege; Shostak, Kateryna ULiege; Chau, Tieu-Lan ULiege et al

in Cancer Research (2016), 76

Constitutive Wnt signaling promotes intestinal cell proliferation, but signals from the tumor microenvironment are also required to support cancer development. The role that signaling proteins play to ... [more ▼]

Constitutive Wnt signaling promotes intestinal cell proliferation, but signals from the tumor microenvironment are also required to support cancer development. The role that signaling proteins play to establish a tumor microenvironment has not been extensively studied. Therefore, we assessed the role of the proinflammatory Ikk-related kinase Ikke in Wnt-driven tumor development. We found that Ikke was activated in intestinal tumors forming upon loss of the tumor suppressor Apc. Genetic ablation of Ikke in b-catenin-driven models of intestinal cancer reduced tumor incidence and consequently extended survival. Mechanistically, we attributed the tumor-promoting effects of Ikke to limited TNF-dependent apoptosis in transformed intestinal epithelial cells. In addition, Ikke was also required for lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and IL17A-induced activation of Akt, Mek1/2, Erk1/2, and Msk1. Accordingly, genes encoding proinflammatory cytokines, chemokines, and anti-microbial peptides were downregulated in Ikke-deficient tissues, subsequently affecting the recruitment of tumor-associated macrophages and IL17A synthesis. Further studies revealed that IL17A synergized with commensal bacteria to trigger Ikke phosphorylation in transformed intestinal epithelial cells, establishing a positive feedback loop to support tumor development. Therefore, TNF, LPS, and IL17A-dependent signaling pathways converge on Ikke to promote cell survival and to establish an inflammatory tumor microenvironment in the intestine upon constitutive Wnt activation. [less ▲]

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See detailL'Azacytidine comme traitement de la maladie du greffon contre l'hôte de type chronique sclérodermique expérimentale.
Fransolet, Gilles ULiege; Ehx, Grégory ULiege; SOMJA, Joan ULiege et al

Conference (2015, November 19)

Introduction: Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) has remained a major complication of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) for the last decades. Following unmanipulated peripheral-blood ... [more ▼]

Introduction: Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) has remained a major complication of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) for the last decades. Following unmanipulated peripheral-blood stem cell transplantation, 60% of the patients experience chronic GVHD while approximately 15% of them develop a sclerodermic form of chronic GVHD characterized by multiple organ fibrosis and loss of skin elasticity. Regulatory T cells (Tregs) play a pivotal protective role in the pathogenesis of chronic GVHD by inhibiting alloreactive conventional T cells (Tconvs). Several studies have shown that hypomethylating agents such as azacytidine (Aza) can demethylate the master transcription factor of Treg (Forkhead box protein 3 factor, FoxP3), thus promoting Treg differentiation from Tconvs. This work investigates the impact of Aza in a classical murine model of sclerodermic chronic GVHD (B10.D2  BALB/cJ). Methods: In vitro analyses have been performed to determine the impact of Aza on collagen production. NIH-3T3 fibroblastic cells were plated and stimulated with 50 ng of PDGF or 10 ng of TGF-beta. Cells were then cultured with various concentrations of Aza for 48 hours. After culture, cells were stained with Sirius Red before quantification of collagen amount by absorbance at 490 nm. For in vivo experiments, lethally irradiated (7 Gy) BALB/cJ recipient mice were injected with 107 bone marrow cells + 7.107splenocytes from B10.D2 donor mice to induce scl-cGVHD. Recipients were injected with either 0,5 or 2 mg/kg of Aza every 48 hours from day 10 to 30 following transplantation. GVHD was scored using a five criteria scale (weight loss, activity, fibrosis, hair loss and mice posture; 0-1-2 points/criteria). Mice were sacrificed at a score of 8/10 (or > 20% weight loss) or at day 52 after transplantation (end of experiment). Results: Concerning in vitro analyses, results suggest a decreased production of collagen at higher concentration of Aza with both stimulations (seen by a gradual diminution of absorbance). For in vivo experiments, mice treated with Aza 0.5 mg/kg (n = 14) or 2 mg/kg (n = 25) had significant lower clinical scores of GVHD compared to control ones (n = 23) after treatment. FACS analysis showed a higher proportion of Treg among CD4+ T cells in the blood of Aza 2 mg/kg mice than in control mice at day 35 following transplantation (P = 0.047), as well as a higher percentage of Tregs expressing the KI67 proliferative marker on the same time point (P = 0.0005). Finally, analyses of the cellular blood components with Cell-dyn demonstrated that Aza 2 mg/kg treated mice were significantly lymphopenic as compared to control mice at day 35 after transplantation (P = 0.05). Conclusion : Aza prevented sclerodermic GVHD in this classical murine model of chronic GVHD. [less ▲]

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See detailImmune Recovery after Allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation following Flu-TBI versus TLI-ATG Conditioning
HANNON, Muriel ULiege; BEGUIN, Yves ULiege; Ehx, Grégory ULiege et al

in Clinical Cancer Research (2015), 21(14), 3131-9

Purpose: A conditioning regimen for allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) combining total lymphoid irradiation (TLI) plus anti-thymocyte globulin (ATG) has been develop to induce graft ... [more ▼]

Purpose: A conditioning regimen for allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) combining total lymphoid irradiation (TLI) plus anti-thymocyte globulin (ATG) has been develop to induce graft-versus-tumor effects without graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). Experimental Design: We compared immune recovery in 53 patients included in a phase II randomized study comparing nonmyeloablative HCT following either fludarabine plus 2 Gy total body irradiation (TBI arm, n=28) or 8 Gy TLI plus anti-thymocyte globulin (TLI arm, n=25). Results: In comparison to TBI patients, TLI patients had a similarly low 6-month incidence of grade II-IV acute GVHD, a lower incidence of moderate/severe chronic GVHD (P=0.02), a higher incidence of CMV reactivation (P<0.001), and a higher incidence of relapse (P=0.01). While recovery of total CD8+ T cells was similar in the two groups, with median CD8+ T cell counts reaching the normal values 40-60 days after allo-HCT, TLI patients had lower percentages of naïve CD8 T cells. Median CD4+ T cell counts did not reach the lower limit of normal values the first year after allo-HCT in the two groups. Further, CD4+ T cell counts were significantly lower in TLI than in TBI patients the first 6 months after transplantation. Interestingly, while median absolute regulatory T cell (Treg) counts were comparable in TBI and TLI patients, Treg/naïve CD4+ T cell ratios were significantly higher in TLI than in TBI patients the 2 first years after transplantation. Conclusions: Immune recovery differs substantially between these two conditioning regimens possibly explaining the different clinical outcomes observed (NCT00603954). [less ▲]

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See detailAzacytidine prevents experimental sclerodermic chronic graft-versus-host disease
Fransolet, Gilles ULiege; Ehx, Grégory ULiege; SOMJA, Joan ULiege et al

Poster (2015, January 30)

Introduction: Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) remains one major complication of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). Following unmanipulated peripheral-blood stem cell ... [more ▼]

Introduction: Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) remains one major complication of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). Following unmanipulated peripheral-blood stem cell transplantation, 60% of the patients experience chronic GVHD while approximately 15% of them develop a sclerodermic form of chronic GVHD characterized by multiple organ fibrosis and loss of skin elasticity. Regulatory T cells (Tregs) play a pivotal role in the pathology of chronic GVHD by inhibiting alloreactive conventional T cells. Several studies have shown the hypomethylating agent Azacytidine (Aza) can demethylate the master transcription factor of Treg (Forkhead box protein 3 factor, FoxP3), thus promoting Treg differentiation of conventional T cells. This work investigates the impact of Aza in a classical murine model of sclerodermic chronic GVHD (B10.D2  BALB/cJ). Methods: Lethally irradiated BALB/cJ recipient mice were injected with 107 bone marrow cells + 7.107splenocytes from B10.D2 donor mice. Recipients were treated with subcutaneous injections of Aza at the dose of 0,5 or 2 mg/kg every two days from day 10 to 30 following transplantation. Mice GVHD was evaluated with five criteria (weight loss, activity, fibrosis, hair loss and mice posture; 0-1-2 points/criteria). Mice were sacrificed at a score of 8/10 (or > 20% weight loss). Results: Mice treated with Aza 0.5 mg/kg (n = 14) or 2 mg/kg (n = 17) had significant lower clinical scores compared to control ones (n = 15) after treatment. FACS analysis showed a higher proportion of Treg among CD4+ T cells in the blood of Aza 2 mg/kg mice than in control mice (P = 0.047), as well as a higher percentage of Tregs expressing the KI67 proliferative marker on the same day (P = 0.0005). Finally, analyses of the cellular blood components with Cell-dyn demonstrated that Aza 2 mg/kg treated mice were significantly lymphopenic as compared to control mice (P = 0.05). Conclusion : Aza prevented sclerodermic GVHD in this classical murine model of chronic GVHD. [less ▲]

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See detailValidation of a multicolor staining to monitor phosphoSTAT5 levels in regulatory T-cell subsets
Ehx, Grégory ULiege; Hannon, Muriel ULiege; BEGUIN, Yves ULiege et al

in Oncotarget (2015), 6

BACKGROUND: Regulatory T cells (Tregs) are key players in immune tolerance. They express the transcription factor FOXP3 and are dependent of the STAT5 signaling for their homeostasis. So far, the study of ... [more ▼]

BACKGROUND: Regulatory T cells (Tregs) are key players in immune tolerance. They express the transcription factor FOXP3 and are dependent of the STAT5 signaling for their homeostasis. So far, the study of phosphorylated epitopes by flow cytometry required treating the cells with methanol, which is harmful for several epitopes. METHODS: Here we assessed whether the PerFix EXPOSE reagent kit (PFE) (Beckman Coulter) allowed monitoring the phosphorylation level of STAT5 in Treg subpopulations together with complex immunophenotyping. Results observed with the PFE kit were compared to those observed without cell permeabilization for surface markers, with paraformaldehyde permeabilization for non-phosphorylated intracellular epitopes, and with methanol-based permeabilization for phosphoSTAT5 staining. RESULTS: In human PBMCs, the PFE kit allowed the detection of surface antigens, FOXP3, KI67 and phosphoSTAT5 in similar proportions to what was observed without permeabilization (for surface antigens), or with PFA or methanol permeabilizations for FOXP3/KI67 and phosphoSTAT5, respectively. Comparable observations were made with murine splenocytes. Further, the PFE kit allowed determining the response of different human and murine Treg subsets to IL-2. It also allowed demonstrating that human Treg subsets with the highest levels of phosphoSTAT5 had also the highest suppressive activity in vitro, and that anti-thymocyte glogulin (ATG) induced Treg independently of the STAT5 pathway, both in vitro and in vivo. CONCLUSIONS: We have validated a multicolor staining method that allows monitoring phosphoSTAT5 levels in Treg subsets. This staining could be useful to monitor responses of various Treg subsets to IL-2 therapy. [less ▲]

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See detailLiver proteomic response to hypertriglyceridemia in human-apolipoprotein C-III transgenic mice at cellular and mitochondrial compartment levels
Ehx, Grégory ULiege; Gerin, Stéphanie ULiege; Mathy, Grégory et al

in Lipids in Health and Disease (2014), 13

Background: Hypertriglyceridemia (HTG) is defined as a triglyceride (TG) plasma level exceeding 150 mg/dl and is tightly associated with atherosclerosis, metabolic syndrome, obesity, diabetes and acute ... [more ▼]

Background: Hypertriglyceridemia (HTG) is defined as a triglyceride (TG) plasma level exceeding 150 mg/dl and is tightly associated with atherosclerosis, metabolic syndrome, obesity, diabetes and acute pancreatitis. The present study was undertaken to investigate the impact of hypertriglyceridemia on the mitochondrial, sub-mitochondrial and cellular proteomes in the hepatocytes of a hypertriglyceridemic transgenic mouse model overexpressing the human apolipoproteinC-III. Methods: Quantitative comparative proteomics (2D-DIGE) was carried out in both “low-expressor” (LE) and “high-expressor” (HE) mice, respectively exhibiting moderate and severe HTG, to characterize the effect of the TG plasma level on the proteomic response. Results: The mitoproteome analysis revealed the occurrence of a large-scale adaptation in transgenic mice consisting of a general down-regulation of matricial proteins and up-regulation of inner membrane proteins. Remarkably, the magnitude of these proteomic changes appears to strongly depend on the TG plasma level. Altogether, our different analyses indicate that, in HE mice, the capacity of several metabolic pathways is altered to promote the availability of acetyl-CoA, glycerol-3-phosphate, ATP and NADPH for de novo TG biosynthesis. The up-regulation of several cytosolic ROS detoxifying enzymes also tend to confirm that the cytoplasm of HTG mice is subjected to oxidative stress as previously stated. The up-regulation of cytosolic ferritin indicates that iron over-accumulation could take place in the cytosol of HE mice hepatocytes and contribute to (i) enhance oxidative stress and (ii) promote cellular proliferation. Conclusions: The present analyses demonstrate that important TG dose-responsive metabolic adaptations are set up in human apolipoproteinC-III-overexpressing mice. Our results indicate that these adaptations could support the higher TG production rates which have been previously reported in this HTG model, and also suggest that cytosolic oxidative stress may result from FFA over-accumulation, iron overload and enhanced activity of some ROS-producing catabolic enzymes. [less ▲]

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See detailThinking out of the box - New approaches to controlling GVHD
Baron, Frédéric ULiege; Humblet-Baron, Stéphanie; Ehx, Grégory ULiege et al

in Current Hematologic Malignancy Reports (2014), 9

Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) remains a major limitation of allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (allo-HCT). Despite major advances in the understanding of GVHD pathogenesis, standard GVHD ... [more ▼]

Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) remains a major limitation of allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (allo-HCT). Despite major advances in the understanding of GVHD pathogenesis, standard GVHD prophylaxis regimens continue to bebased on the combination of a calcineurin inhibitor with an antimetabolite, while first line treatmentsstill relies on high-dose corticosteroids. Further, no second line treatment has emerged thus far in acute or chronic GVHD patients who failed on corticosteroids. After briefly reviewing current standards of GVHD prevention and treatment, this article will discuss recent approaches that might change GVHD prophylaxis / treatment in the next decades, with a special focus on recently developed immunoregulatory strategies based on infusion of mesenchymal stromal or regulatory T-cells, or on injection of lowdose interleukin-2. [less ▲]

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