Time series clustering of T cell subsets dissects heterogeneity in immune reconstitution and clinical outcomes among MUD-HCT patients receiving ATG or PTCy

Introduction: Anti-T-lymphocyte globulin (ATG) or post-transplant cyclophosphamide (PTCy) prevent graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) after hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT), yet individual patients benefit differentially.

Methods: Given the sparse comparative data on the impact of cellular immune reconstitution in this setting, we studied flow cytometry and clinical outcomes in 339 recipients of 10/10 matched-unrelated donor (MUD) HCT using either ATG (n=304) or PTCy (n=35) for in vivo T cell manipulation along with a haploidentical PTCy control cohort (n=45). Longitudinal cellular immune reconstitution data were analyzed conventionally and with a data science approach using clustering with dynamic time warping to determine the similarity between time-series of T cell subsets.

Results: Consistent with published studies, no significant differences in clinical outcomes were observed at the cohort level between MUD-ATG and MUD-PTCy. However, cellular reconstitution revealed preferences for distinct T cell subpopulations associating with GVHD protection in each setting. Starting early after HCT, MUD-PTCy patients had higher regulatory T cell levels after HCT (p <0.0001), while MUD-ATG patients presented with higher levels of γδ T- or NKT cells (both p <0.0001). Time-series clustering further dissected the patient population’s heterogeneity revealing distinct immune reconstitution clusters. Importantly, it identified phenotypes that reproducibly associated with impaired clinical outcomes within the same in vivo T cell manipulation platform. Exemplarily, patients with lower activated- and αβ T cell counts had significantly higher NRM (p=0.032) and relapse rates (p =0.01).

Discussion: The improved understanding of the heterogeneity of cellular reconstitution in MUD patients with T cell manipulation both at the cohort and individual level may support clinicians in managing HCT complications.


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