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DOP64 Endoscopically injected allogeneic mesenchymal stromal cells alter the mucosal immune cell compartment in patients with ulcerative proctitis

Ouboter, L.(1,2);Barnhoorn, M.(2);Plug, L.(2);van Pel, M.(1,3);Zwaginga, J.J.(4);Roelen, D.(1);Pascutti, F.(1);Koning, F.(1);Hawinkels, L.(2);Verspaget, H.(2);van der Meulen - de Jong, A.(2)

(1)Leiden University Medical Center LUMC Building 1, Department of Immunology, Leiden, The Netherlands;(2)Leiden University Medical Center LUMC Building 1, Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Leiden, The Netherlands;(3)Netherlands Center for the Clinical Advancement of Stem Cell & Gene Therapies, Necstgen, Leiden, The Netherlands;(4)Leiden University Medical Center LUMC Building 1, Department of Internal Medicine, Leiden, The Netherlands

Background

Local mesenchymal stromal cell (MSC)-therapy is approved for the treatment of Crohn’s disease-associated perianal fistulas. However, little is known about the working mechanism of local MSC-therapy. For the first time we evaluated engraftment and immunoregulatory effects of local MSC-therapy in patients with refractory proctitis. To do so, we analyzed biopsies and serum from patients with ulcerative proctitis before and after treatment with endoscopically injected MSCs in a phase IIa clinical trial (EudraCT number 2017-003524-75).

Methods

Thirteen therapy-refractory ulcerative proctitis patients were endoscopically injected bone marrow-derived allogeneic MSCs from healthy donors. Clinical efficacy was evaluated by the endoscopic and full Mayo score. Engraftment of the MSCs was investigated using fluorescence in-situ hybridization (FISH) of sex chromosomes on post-treatment biopsies. The presence of anti-HLA-antibodies against the MSC-donor was determined in the serum. Changes in immune cell subsets were evaluated using cytometry-by-time-of-flight (CyTOF) analysis.

Results

Thirteen patients with an endoscopic Mayo score of 2 (n=3) or 3 (n=10) of the rectum were treated with local MSC-therapy. Although complete remission was not achieved, full Mayo score was improved at week 6 (median 8 [IQR 6-10]) compared to baseline (median 11 [IQR 9.5-12]) (p=0.001). Preliminary data using FISH on the Y-chromosome, indicated the presence of MSCs in the rectum biopsies of female patients treated with male donor derived-MSCs at week 6. At baseline, HLA-antibodies were present in four patients. Six weeks after local injection of the MSCs, two out of thirteen patients developed new class I and II HLA-antibodies against the MSCs. Interestingly, in two patients pre-existing HLA-antibodies showed increased/boosted levels after local MSC-therapy, while one additionally developed new HLA-antibodies. CyTOF analysis of inflamed rectal biopsies 6 weeks after MSC treatment revealed significantly increased frequencies of several myeloid subsets (i.e. CD11b+CD14+CCR7+/-CD127+CD25+HLADR+ and CD14+HLA-DR-CD123-CCR7+) and a subset of CD4+ memory T cells with a more exhausted/regulated phenotype (PD-1+TIGIT+CD69+CD38+CD69).

Conclusion

Local MSC-therapy in patients with refractory proctitis changed the rectal immune profile characterised by a significant increase in a subset of effector memory CD4+ cells and several myeloid subsets, which might be associated with immune modulation. These results provide the basis for future studies on the mechanism of action of MSCs on rectal mucosa. New anti-HLA class antibodies developed in 2/13 patients after local administration. Whether these latter results have consequences for MSC-donor selection deserves further study.

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