The major cause of death after allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT) for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is disease relapse. We investigated the expression of Inhibitory Receptors (IR; PD-1/CTLA-4/TIM-3/LAG-3/2B4/KLRG1/GITR) on T cells infiltrating the bone marrow (BM) of 32 AML patients relapsing (median 251 days) or maintaining complete remission (CR; median 1 year) after HSCT. A higher proportion of early-differentiated Memory Stem (T SCM ) and Central Memory BM-T cells express multiple IR in relapsing patients than in CR patients. Exhausted BM-T cells at relapse display a restricted TCR repertoire, impaired effector functions and leukemia-reactive specificities. In 57 patients, early detection of severely exhausted (PD-1 + Eomes + T-bet − ) BM-T SCM predicts relapse. Accordingly, leukemia-specific T cells in patients prone to relapse display exhaustion markers, absent in patients maintaining long-term CR. These results highlight a wide, though reversible, immunological dysfunction in the BM of AML patients relapsing after HSCT and suggest new therapeutic opportunities for the disease.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)