Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors have achieved positive responses in myeloproliferative neoplasms, but at the expense of decreased natural killer (NK) cell numbers and compromised function. Selective JAK2 inhibition may also have a role in preventing and treating graft-vs-host disease after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Although JAK inhibitors can impair monocyte-derived dendritic cell (moDC) activation and function and suppress effector T-cell responses, the effects on NK cells and the relevant mechanisms remain undefined. Using common gammac cytokines and distinct human dendritic cell (DC) subtypes, we compared the effects of a JAK2-specific (TG101348) with a less selective JAK½ (ruxolitinib) inhibitor on NK-cell activation and function. Ruxolitinib treatment completely blocked IL2, IL15, and DC-mediated STAT5 phosphorylation, along with the capacity of NK cells to secrete IFNgamma or lyse NK cell-sensitive targets. Only NK-cell proliferation stimulated by monocyte-derived DCs (moDCs) resisted ruxolitinib treatment. In contrast, TG101348 treatment of stimulated NK cells resulted in far less functional compromise. TG101348 completely inhibited only soluble IL15-mediated STAT5 phosphorylation, which Langerhans-type DCs (LCs), presenting membrane-bound IL15 in trans, could salvage. These results demonstrate that ruxolitinib's nonselective inhibition of JAK½ results in profound NK-cell dysfunction by blocking downstream pSTAT5, hence providing a persuasive rationale for the development of selective JAK2 inhibitors for immunotherapeutic applications.
- Received September 8, 2016.
- Revision received November 11, 2016.
- Accepted November 19, 2016.
- Copyright ©2016, American Association for Cancer Research.