Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2013

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Schlueter, Annette J.

First Committee Member

Allen, Lee-Ann

Second Committee Member

Xue, Hai-Hui

Third Committee Member

Waldschmidt, Thomas

Fourth Committee Member

Zavazava, Nicholas


Despite Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) matching and use of immunosuppressive drugs, graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) following hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) is prevalent and often fatal. Additionally, older HSCT recipients experience increased morbidity and mortality. Prophylactic treatment with age-matched syngeneic (recipient strain-derived) cultured regulatory DC (DCreg) has been shown to decrease GVHD-associated mortality in young bone marrow transplanted (BMT) mice. The purpose of this study was to investigate: 1) the potential to generate DCreg from older mice and their subsequent ability to ameliorate GVHD in older BMT mice, 2) the mechanism(s) by which DCreg mitigate GVHD in vivo, 3) the ability of DCreg-treated BMT mice to respond to infectious pathogens, and 4) whether DCreg can be generated under clinically relevant conditions from healthy donor and HSCT recipient PBMCs.

To evaluate the efficacy of DCreg treatment in older mice, complete MHC-mismatched BMT mice were treated with DCreg (hereafter referred to as DCreg-treated BMT mice). Although DCreg treatment ameliorated GVHD in older BMT mice, these mice had increased morbidity and decreased survival compared to their young counterparts.

Following transfer into BMT mice, older DCreg failed to increase inhibitory molecule (PD-L1 and PIR B) expression while significantly upregulating co-stimulatory molecule (CD40 and CD80) expression, conversely young DCreg upregulated inhibitory molecules as well as co-stimulatory molecules. These phenotypic differences between young and older DCreg in vivo provide a potential mechanism for modestly increased morbidity and mortality in older DCreg-treated BMT mice relative to their young counterparts. Indeed, BMT mice treated with DCreg deficient in PD-L1 or PIR B had significantly reduced overall survival, thus both molecules are required for optimal GVHD mitigation.

A murine H1N1 influenza (IAV) infection model was used to assess the donor immune system's capacity to respond to relevant antigens other than those responsible for GVHD. Surprisingly, sub-lethally IAV-infected DCreg-treated BMT mice began to die after d. +21 and all were deceased by d. +25. Virus-specific CD8+ T cell and antibody (Ab) responses were undetectable following primary infection. Interestingly, following a prime-boost infection strategy, DCreg-treated BMT mice survived lethal IAV challenge with no signs of morbidity and had demonstrable IAV-specific Ab and CD8+ T cell responses. Thus a prime-boost IAV infection strategy establishes a protective immune response in the DCreg-treated BMT mice and underscores the potential role vaccination may play in establishing immune competence in DCreg-treated BMT mice.

We investigated whether human DCreg can be generated under clinically relevant conditions: 1) following peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) cryopreservation, 2) in bovine serum-free media, and 3) from older individuals and HSCT recipients. DCreg were generated from healthy donor and HSCT patient PBMCs isolated from young (old) and older (> 50 years old) individuals by culturing cells in X-vivo serum-free.

Human DCreg generated from both young and older healthy donor PBMCs had comparable numbers, surface molecule phenotype, cytokine production, and able to induce Treg. Cryopreserved and fresh PBMCs generated DCreg with similar phenotypes and cytokine production. DCreg generated from HSCT recipients maintained low co-stimulatory molecule and high inhibitory molecule expression as well as immunosuppressive cytokine production. These studies confirm DCreg can be generated under clinically relevant conditions.


bone marrow transplant, graft versus host disease, human, influenza, regulatory dendritic cells, translational


xx, 262 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 242-262).


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Copyright © 2013 Sabrina Marie Scroggins