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Hum Immunol. 1999 Jul;60(7):598-607.

An in vitro model of allogeneic stimulation of cord blood: induction of Fas independent apoptosis.

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  • 1INSERM U396, Labo. d'Immunogénétique Moléculaire, Institut Biomedical des Cordeliers, Paris, France.


Cord blood is increasingly used in transplantation as it is a readily available source of progenitor cells and is reputed to generate less severe graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) than adult bone marrow. We have compared apoptosis of cord blood lymphocytes (CB) and adult lymphocytes (PBMC) after stimulation via HLA class I, HLA class II or CD3 in order to reproduce in vitro some of the stimuli occurring after allotransplantation. CB spontaneously apoptose more than PBMC ex vivo, stimulation via HLA class I dramatically increased CB apoptosis without altering viability of PBMC. Expression of Fas was markedly lower on CB than on PBMC and this difference was maintained even after activation. Fas ligand was expressed in CB and in PBMC. CB were activated via either HLA class I or class II molecules although proliferation was not observed. Only phorbol ester pre-activation allowed Fas to subsequently induce a death signal. Proliferation of PBMC via CD3 led to enhanced Fas signals. CB therefore differ from PBMC with regard to both spontaneous and activation induced apoptosis and either allo- or CD3 mediated stimulation. Finally, the apoptosis of CB via HLA-class I could have an important role in the moderation of graft-versus-host disease.

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