Non-infectious pulmonary complications including idiopathic pneumonia syndrome (IPS) and bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS), which are clinical and diagnostic manifestations of lung chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), cause significant mortality after allogeneic stem cell transplantation (SCT). Increasing evidence suggests that alloantigen reactions in lung tissue play a central role in the pathogenesis of IPS and BOS; however, the mechanism is not fully understood. Several clinical and experimental studies have reported that intrabone marrow (IBM)-SCT provides high rates of engraftment and is associated with a low incidence of acute GVHD. In the present study, allogeneic SCT was conducted in mouse models of IPS and BOS, to compare intravenous (IV)-SCT with IBM-SCT. Allogeneic IBM-SCT improved the clinical and pathological outcomes of pulmonary complications compared to those of IV-SCT. The mechanisms underlying the reductions in pulmonary complications in IBM-SCT mice were explored. The infiltrating lung cells were mainly CD11b+ myeloid and CD3+ T cells, in the same proportions as in transplanted donor cells. In an in vivo bioluminescence imaging, a higher proportion of injected donor cells was detected in the lung during the early phase (1 h after IV-SCT) than after IBM-SCT (16.7 ± 1.1 vs. 3.1 ± 0.7 × 105 photons/s/ animal, IV-SCT vs. IBM-SCT, P = 1.90 × 10-10). In the late phase (5 days) after SCT, there were also significantly more donor cells in the lung after IV-SCT than after IBM-SCT or allogeneic- SCT (508.5 ± 66.1 vs. 160.1 ± 61.9 × 106 photons/s/animal, IV-SCT vs. IBM-SCT, P = 0.001), suggesting that the allogeneic reaction induces sustained donor cell infiltration in the lung during the late phase. These results demonstrated that IBM-SCT is capable of reducing injected donor cells in the lung; IBM-SCT decreases donor cell infiltration. IBM-SCT therefore represents a promising transplantation strategy for reducing pulmonary complications, by suppressing the first step in the pathophysiology of chronic GVHD.
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