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Blood. 2003 Feb 15;101(4):1422-9. Epub 2002 Oct 10.

Differential CD52 expression by distinct myeloid dendritic cell subsets: implications for alemtuzumab activity at the level of antigen presentation in allogeneic graft-host interactions in transplantation.

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  • 1Laboratory of Cellular Immunobiology, Department of Medicine, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, NY, USA.

Erratum in

  • Blood. 2005 Apr 15;105(8):3018. Dosage error in article text.


Alemtuzumab (anti-CD52; Campath 1-H) depletes both host and donor T cells when used in preparative regimens for allogeneic transplantation. This promotes engraftment even after nonmyeloablative conditioning and limits graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) even after unrelated or major histocompatibility complex (MHC) disparate allografts. We asked whether anti-CD52 differentially targets antigen-presenting cells (APCs), in addition to depleting T cells. Monocyte-derived dendritic cells (moDCs) expressed abundant CD52 as expected. Langerhans cells (LCs) and dermal-interstitial DCs (DDC-IDCs), however, never expressed CD52. Immunostaining of skin and gut confirmed the absence of CD52 on these resident DC populations under both steady-state and inflammatory conditions. Although anti-CD52 functions primarily by antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) in vivo, assessment of its activity in vitro included complement-dependent lysis of CD52(+) cells. Anti-CD52 did not impair DC-T-cell adhesion, diminish DC-stimulated T-cell proliferation, or alter moDC development in vitro. We propose that anti-CD52 abrogates GVHD not only by T-cell depletion, but also by removing moDCs and their precursors. This would mitigate moDC phagocytosis and presentation of host-derived antigens to donor T cells in the inflammatory peritransplantation environment, thereby limiting GVHD. The sparing of LCs and DDC-IDCs by anti-CD52, as well as the recovery of donor-derived moDCs in a less inflammatory environment later after transplantation, may allow all these DCs to exert formative roles in graft-versus-tumor (GVT) reactions and immune reconstitution. Whether these results support a separation of deleterious from beneficial graft-host interactions at the level of antigen presentation, rather than solely at the level of T cells, will require further evaluation.

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