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Bone Marrow Transplant. 2006 Feb;37(3):297-305.

Depletion of alloreactive T cells via CD69: implications on antiviral, antileukemic and immunoregulatory T lymphocytes.

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  • 1Department of Medicine III--Hematology and Oncology, Johannes Gutenberg-University School of Medicine, Mainz, Germany. uhartwig@mail.uni-mainz.de


Selective depletion of alloreactive T cells from stem-cell allografts should abrogate graft-versus-host disease while preserving beneficial T cell specificities to facilitate engraftment and immune reconstitution. We therefore explored a refined immunomagnetic separation strategy to effectively deplete alloreactive donor lymphocytes expressing the activation antigen CD69 upon stimulation, and examined the retainment of antiviral, antileukemic, and immunoregulatory T cells. In addition to the CD69high T cell fraction, our studies retrieved two T cell subsets based on residual CD69 expression. Whereas, truly CD69(neg) cells were devoid of detectable alloresponses to original stimulators, CD69-low (CD69low)-expressing T cells elicited significant residual alloreactivity upon restimulation. In interferon-gamma enzyme linked immunospot assays, anti-cytomegalovirus and anti-Epstein-Barr virus responses were preserved at significant numbers among CD69neg T lymphocytes. Accordingly, T cells recognizing the leukemia-associated Wilm's tumor-1 antigen were still detectable in the CD69neg subset. However, antiviral and antileukemic specificities were also consistently found within CD69low T cells, suggesting that memory-type donor T cells were partially captured due to residual CD69 expression. Finally, CD4+CD25+ Foxp3+ immunoregulatory T cells did not upregulate CD69 upon allogeneic stimulation. Our data suggest that CD69-mediated removal of alloreactivity can result in efficient allodepletion, but may partially affect the persistence of antiviral and antileukemic donor memory specificities captured among CD69low-expressing lymphocytes.

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