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Blood. 1999 Aug 15;94(4):1201-8.

Complete remission of accelerated phase chronic myeloid leukemia by treatment with leukemia-reactive cytotoxic T lymphocytes.

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Departments of Hematology and Pharmacy, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands.


Relapse of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) in chronic phase after allogeneic stem cell transplantation (SCT) can be successfully treated by donor lymphocyte infusion (DLI). However, relapse of accelerated phase CML, blast crisis, or acute leukemia after allogeneic SCT are resistant to DLI in the majority of cases. In vitro-selected and expanded leukemia-reactive T-cell lines may be more effective in inducing an antileukemic response in vivo. To treat a patient with accelerated phase CML after allogeneic SCT, leukemia-reactive cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) lines were generated from her HLA-identical donor. Using a modification of a limiting dilution assay, T cells were isolated from the donor, selected based on their ability to inhibit the in vitro growth of CML progenitor cells, and subsequently expanded in vitro to generate CTL lines. Three CTL lines were generated that lysed the leukemic cells from the patient and inhibited the growth of leukemic progenitor cells. The CTL did not react with lymphocytes from donor or recipient and did not affect donor hematopoietic progenitor cells. The 3 leukemia-reactive CTL lines were infused at 5-week intervals at a cumulative dose of 3.2 x 10(9) CTL. Shortly after the third infusion, complete eradication of the leukemic cells was observed, as shown by cytogenetic analysis, fluorescence in situ hybridization, molecular analysis of BCR/ABL-mRNA, and chimerism studies. These results show that in vitro cultured leukemia-reactive CTL lines selected on their ability to inhibit the proliferation of leukemic progenitor cells in vitro can be successfully applied to treat accelerated phase CML after allogeneic SCT.

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