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Ex vivo fludarabine exposure inhibits graft-versus-host activity of allogeneic T cells while preserving graft-versus-leukemia effects

By Cynthia R Giver, Richard O Montes, Stephen Mittelstaedt, Jian-Ming Li, David L Jaye, Sagar Lonial, Michael W Boyer and Edmund K Waller


AbstractAllogeneic donor T cells in bone marrow transplantation (BMT) can contribute to beneficial graft-versus-leukemia (GVL) effects but can also cause detrimental graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). A successful method for the ex vivo treatment of donor T cells to limit their GVHD potential while retaining GVL activity would have broad clinical applications for patients undergoing allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation for malignant diseases. We hypothesized that donor lymphocyte infusions treated with fludarabine, an immunosuppressive nucleoside analog, would have reduced GVHD potential in a fully major histocompatibility complex-mismatched C57BL/6 → B10.BR mouse BMT model. Recipients of fludarabine-treated donor lymphocyte infusions (F-DLI) had significantly reduced GVHD mortality, reduced histopathologic evidence of GVHD, and lower inflammatory serum cytokine levels than recipients of untreated DLI. Combined comparisons of GVHD incidence and donor-derived hematopoietic chimerism indicated that F-DLI had a therapeutic index superior to that of untreated DLI. Furthermore, adoptive immunotherapy of lymphoblastic lymphoma using F-DLI in the C57BL/6 → B10.BR model demonstrated a broad therapeutic index with markedly reduced GVHD activity and preservation of GVL activity compared with untreated allogeneic T cells. Fludarabine exposure markedly reduced the CD4+CD44low-naive donor T-cell population within 48 hours of transplantation and altered the relative representation of cytokine-producing CD4+ T cells, consistent with T-helper type 2 polarization. However, proliferation of fludarabine-treated T cells in allogeneic recipient spleens was equivalent to that of untreated T cells. The results suggest that fludarabine reduces the GVHD potential of donor lymphocytes through effects on a CD4+CD44low T-cell population, with less effect on alloreactive T cells and CD4+CD44high memory T cells that are able to mediate GVL effects. Thus, F-DLI represents a novel method of immune modulation that may be useful to enhance immune reconstitution among allograft recipients with reduced risk of GVHD while retaining beneficial GVL effects

Publisher: American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation. Published by Elsevier Inc.
Year: 2003
DOI identifier: 10.1016/S1083-8791(03)00229-5
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