Objective: COPA syndrome is a genetic disorder of retrograde cis-Golgi vesicle transport that leads to upregulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines (mainly IL-1β and IL-6) and the development of interstitial lung disease (ILD). The impact of COPA syndrome on post-lung transplant (LTx) outcome is unknown but potentially detrimental. In this case report, we describe progressive allograft dysfunction following LTx for COPA-ILD. Following the failure of standard immunosuppressive approaches, detailed cytokine analysis was performed with the intention of personalising therapy. Methods: Multiplexed cytokine analysis was performed on serum and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid obtained pre- and post-LTx. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PMBCs) obtained pre- and post-LTx were stimulated with PMA, LPS and anti-CD3/CD28 antibodies. Post-LTx endobronchial biopsies underwent microarray-based gene expression analysis. Results were compared to non-COPA LTx recipients and non-LTx healthy controls. Results: Multiplexed cytokine analysis showed rising type I/II IFNs, and IL-6 in BAL post-LTx that decreased following treatment of acute rejection but rebounded with further clinical deterioration. In vitro stimulation of PMBCs suggested that myeloid cells were driving deterioration, through IL-6 signalling pathways. Tocilizumab (IL-6 receptor antibody) administration for 3 months (4 mg kg−1, monthly) effectively suppressed IL-6 levels in BAL. Mucosal gene expression profile following tocilizumab suggested greater similarity to normal. Conclusion: Clinical effectiveness of IL-6 receptor blockade was not observed. However, we identified IL-6 upregulation associated with graft injury, effective IL-6 suppression with tocilizumab and evidence of beneficial effect on molecular transcripts. This mechanistic analysis suggests a role for IL-6 blockade in post-LTx care that should be investigated further.
- COPA syndrome
- lung transplantation