Regulatory T (Treg) cells play a central role in immune tolerance and prevention of aberrant immune responses. Several studies have suggested that the risk of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) after allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) can be ameliorated by increasing Tregs. We have developed an approach of in vivo expansion of Tregs with RGI-2001, a novel liposomal formulation of a synthetic derivative of alpha-galactosylceramide, a naturally occurring ligand that binds to CD1 and activates and expands invariant natural killer cells. In preclinical studies, a single intravenous infusion of RGI-2001 expanded Treg and could ameliorate GVHD in a mouse model of allogeneic HCT. To explore the role of RGI-2001 in clinical HCT, we initiated a phase 2A clinical trial (n?=?29), testing 2 different doses of RGI-2001 administered as a single infusion on day 0 of allogeneic HCT. RGI-2001 was well tolerated and without infusion reactions or cytokine release syndrome. A subset of patients (8 of 29, 28%) responded to RGI-2001 by inducing a markedly increased number of cells with a Treg phenotype. The Treg had a high Ki-67 index and were almost exclusively Helios(+) and Foxp3(+), indicating that their accumulation was due to expansion of natural Treg. Notably, the incidence of grade 2 to 4 GVHD in the 8 patients who responded to RGI-2001 was 12.5%, compared with 52.4% in the 21 patients who did not respond. No grade 3 or 4 GVHD was observed in the responder group, compared with a 9.5% incidence among nonresponders. Immunosuppression with sirolimus was also associated with a low incidence of GVHD, suggesting that RGI-2001 may have synergized with sirolimus to promote Treg expansion.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.bbmt.2017.01.069
View details for Web of Science ID 000397364300013