Increased Coexpression of PD-1, TIGIT, and KLRG-1 on Tumor-Reactive CD8 + T Cells During Relapse after Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplantation

Tim J.A. Hutten, Wieger J. Norde, Rob Woestenenk, Ruo Chen Wang, Frans Maas, Michel Kester, J. H.Frederik Falkenburg, Sofia Berglund, Leo Luznik, Joop H. Jansen, Nicolaas Schaap, Harry Dolstra, Willemijn Hobo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Allogeneic stem cell transplantation (allo-SCT) can be a curative treatment for patients with a hematologic malignancy due to alloreactive T cell responses recognizing minor histocompatibility antigens (MiHA). Yet tumor immune escape mechanisms can cause failure of T cell immunity, leading to relapse. Tumor cells display low expression of costimulatory molecules and can up-regulate coinhibitory molecules that inhibit T cell functionality on ligation with their counter-receptors on the tumor-reactive T cells. The aim of this explorative study was to evaluate immune checkpoint expression profiles on T cell subsets and on cytomegalovirus (CMV)- and/or MiHA-reactive CD8 + T cells of allo-SCT recipients using a 13-color flow cytometry panel, and to correlate these expression patterns to clinical outcomes. MiHA-reactive CD8 + T cells exhibited an early differentiated CD27 ++ /CD28 ++ phenotype with low KLRG-1 and CD57 expression. These T cells also displayed increased expression of PD-1, TIM-3, and TIGIT compared with total effector memory T cells and CMV-specific CD8 + T cells in healthy donors and allo-SCT recipients. Remarkably, high coexpression of PD-1, TIGIT, and KLRG-1 on MiHA-reactive CD8 + T cells was associated with relapse after allo-SCT. Taken together, these findings indicate that MiHA-specific CD8 + T cells of relapsed patients have a distinctive coinhibitory expression signature compared with patients who stay in remission. This phenotype may serve as a potential monitoring tool in patients. Moreover, these findings suggest that PD-1 and TIGIT play important roles in regulating T cell-mediated tumor control, providing a rationale for immunotherapy with blocking antibodies to treat relapse after allo-SCT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)666-677
Number of pages12
JournalBiology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • Allo-SCT
  • MiHA
  • PD-1
  • TIGIT and T cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Transplantation


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