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Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is the most common viral infection in hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) recipients. We performed deep phenotyping of CMV-specific T cells to predict CMV outcomes following allogeneic HCT. By using 13-color flow cytometry, we studied ex vivo CD8+ T-cell cytokine production in response to CMV-pp65 peptides in 3 clinically distinct subgroups of CMV-seropositive HCT patients: (1) Elite Controllers (n = 19): did not have evidence of CMV DNAemia on surveillance testing; (2) Spontaneous Controllers (n = 16): spontaneously resolved low-grade CMV DNAemia without antiviral therapy; and (3) Noncontrollers (NC; n = 21): experienced clinically significant CMV. Two CMV-specific CD8+ T-cell functional subsets were strongly associated with risk of CMV: (i) the nonprotective signature (NPS; IL-2-IFN-γ+TNF-α-MIP-1β+), found at increased levels among NC; and (ii) the protective signature (PS; IL-2+IFN-γ+TNF-α+MIP-1β+) found at low levels among NC. High levels of the NPS and low levels of PS were associated with an increased 100-day cumulative incidence of clinically significant CMV infection (35% vs 5%; P = .02; and 40% vs 12%; P = .05, respectively). The highest predictive value was observed when these signatures were combined into a composite biomarker consisting of low levels of the PS and high levels of the NPS (67% vs 10%; P < .001). After adjusting for steroid use or donor type, this composite biomarker remained associated with a fivefold increase in the risk of clinically significant CMV infection. CMV-specific CD8+ T-cell cytokine signatures with robust predictive value for risk of CMV reactivation should prove useful in guiding clinical decision making in HCT recipients. © 2019 by The American Society of Hematology.


Jose F Camargo, Eric D Wieder, Erik Kimble, Cara L Benjamin, Despina S Kolonias, Deukwoo Kwon, Xi Steven Chen, Krishna V Komanduri. Deep functional immunophenotyping predicts risk of cytomegalovirus reactivation after hematopoietic cell transplantation. Blood. 2019 Feb 21;133(8):867-877

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PMID: 30573634

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