Background Gain-of-function (GOF) mutations in the human signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 (STAT1) manifest in immunodeficiency and autoimmunity with impaired TH17 cell differentiation and exaggerated responsiveness to type I and II interferons. Allogeneic bone marrow transplantation has been attempted in severely affected patients, but outcomes have been poor. Objective We sought to define the effect of increased STAT1 activity on T helper cell polarization and to investigate the therapeutic potential of ruxolitinib in treating autoimmunity secondary to STAT1 GOF mutations. Methods We used in vitro polarization assays, as well as phenotypic and functional analysis of STAT1-mutated patient cells. Results We report a child with a novel mutation in the linker domain of STAT1 who had life-threatening autoimmune cytopenias and chronic mucocutaneous candidiasis. Naive lymphocytes from the affected patient displayed increased TH1 and follicular T helper cell and suppressed TH17 cell responses. The mutation augmented cytokine-induced STAT1 phosphorylation without affecting dephosphorylation kinetics. Treatment with the Janus kinase 1/2 inhibitor ruxolitinib reduced hyperresponsiveness to type I and II interferons, normalized TH1 and follicular T helper cell responses, improved TH17 differentiation, cured mucocutaneous candidiasis, and maintained remission of immune-mediated cytopenias. Conclusions Autoimmunity and infection caused by STAT1 GOF mutations are the result of dysregulated T helper cell responses. Janus kinase inhibitor therapy could represent an effective targeted treatment for long-term disease control in severely affected patients for whom hematopoietic stem cell transplantation is not available.
Weinacht, K. G., Charbonnier, L. M., Alroqi, F., Plant, A., Qiao, Q., Wu, H., … Chatila, T. A. (2017). Ruxolitinib reverses dysregulated T helper cell responses and controls autoimmunity caused by a novel signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 (STAT1) gain-of-function mutation. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 139(5), 1629-1640.e2. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaci.2016.11.022