Inhibition of RIP1 improves immune reconstitution and reduces GVHD mortality while preserving graft-versus-leukemia effects

Mariano Prado-Acosta, Seihwan Jeong, Alberto Utrero-Rico, Tatiana Goncharov, Joshua D. Webster, Ernst Holler, George Morales, Sergio Dellepiane, John E. Levine, Michael E. Rothenberg, Domagoj Vucic, James L.M. Ferrara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) remains the major cause of morbidity and nonrelapse mortality (NRM) after hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT). Inflammatory cytokines mediate damage to key GVHD targets such as intestinal stem cells (ISCs) and also activate receptor interacting protein kinase 1 (RIP1; RIPK1), a critical regulator of apoptosis and necroptosis. We therefore investigated the role of RIP1 in acute GVHD using samples from HCT patients, modeling GVHD damage in vitro with both human and mouse gastrointestinal (GI) organoids, and blocking RIP1 activation in vivo using several well-characterized mouse HCT models. Increased phospho-RIP1 expression in GI biopsies from patients with acute GVHD correlated with tissue damage and predicted NRM. Both the genetic inactivation of RIP1 and the RIP1 inhibitor GNE684 prevented GVHD-induced apoptosis of ISCs in vivo and in vitro. Daily administration of GNE684 for 14 days reduced inflammatory infiltrates in three GVHD target organs (intestine, liver, and spleen) in mice. Unexpectedly, GNE684 administration also reversed the marked loss of regulatory T cells in the intestines and liver during GVHD and reduced splenic T cell exhaustion, thus improving immune reconstitution. Pharmacological and genetic inhibition of RIP1 improved long-term survival without compromising the graft-versus-leukemia (GVL) effect in lymphocytic and myeloid leukemia mouse models. Thus, RIP1inhibition may represent a nonimmunosuppressive treatment for GVHD.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberadf8366
JournalScience Translational Medicine
Issue number727
StatePublished - 2023


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