Acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) represents a severe, T cell–driven inflammatory complication following allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (allo-HCT). GVHD often affects the intestine and is associated with a poor prognosis. Although frequently detectable, proinflammatory mechanisms exerted by intestinal tissue–infiltrating Th cell subsets remain to be fully elucidated. Here, we show that the Th17-defining transcription factor basic leucine zipper transcription factor ATF-like (BATF) was strongly regulated across human and mouse intestinal GVHD tissues. Studies in complete MHC-mismatched and minor histocompatibility–mismatched (miHA-mismatched) GVHD models revealed that BATF-expressing T cells were functionally indispensable for intestinal GVHD manifestation. Mechanistically, BATF controlled the formation of colon-infiltrating, IL-7 receptor–positive (IL-7R+), granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor–positive (GM-CSF+), donor T effector memory (Tem) cells. This T cell subset was sufficient to promote intestinal GVHD, while its occurrence was largely dependent on T cell–intrinsic BATF expression, required IL-7–IL-7R interaction, and was enhanced by GM-CSF. Thus, this study identifies BATF-dependent pathogenic GM-CSF+ effector T cells as critical promoters of intestinal inflammation in GVHD and hence putatively provides mechanistic insight into inflammatory processes previously assumed to be selectively Th17 driven.
Evelyn Ullrich, Benjamin Abendroth, Johanna Rothamer, Carina Huber, Maike Büttner-Herold, Vera Buchele, Tina Vogler, Thomas Longerich, Sebastian Zundler, Simon Völkl, Andreas Beilhack, Stefan Rose-John, Stefan Wirtz, Georg F. Weber, Sakhila Ghimire, Marina Kreutz, Ernst Holler, Andreas Mackensen, Markus F. Neurath, Kai Hildner
Guidelines: The Editorial Board will only consider letters that we deem relevant and of interest to our readers. We will not post data that have not been subjected to peer review, nor will we post letters that are essentially a reiteration of another letter. All accepted letters will be posted on our website within one week of acceptance. We reserve the right to edit any letter for length, content, and clarity. Authors of all accepted letters will be asked to preview any changes. Authors will be notified by e-mail if their letters were not accepted. As this is a final decision, no appeals will be considered.
Specific requirements: All letters must be 400 words or fewer. You may enter the letter as plain text or HTML. The author's name and e-mail address are required, and will be posted with the letter. All possible conflicts of interest must be noted, even if they are not posted. If you wish to include a figure (keep in mind that non-peer-reviewed data will not be posted), please contact the editors directly at email@example.com.