T cells take directions from supporting cast in graft-versus-host disease
Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) remains the only treatment option for several severe hematological malignancies. The development of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) is a common complication of the procedure and results when donor T cells become activated against recipient-specific antigens. The factors that drive the alloreactive T cell response are not completely understood. In this issue of the JCI, Chung and colleagues present evidence that stromal cells within lymphoid tissue express the Notch ligands Delta-like 1/4 (DLL1 and DLL4), which in turn directly activate T cells. Importantly, inhibition of DLL1/DLL4-mediated Notch signaling in murine HSCT models dramatically reduced GVHD and improved graft survival.