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Blood. 1999 Nov 1;94(9):3234-41.

Engraftment kinetics after nonmyeloablative allogeneic peripheral blood stem cell transplantation: full donor T-cell chimerism precedes alloimmune responses.

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Hematology Branch, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Nonmyeloablative allogeneic stem cell transplantation has recently been explored as a safer alternative to conventional high-dose transplant regimens. Although a high incidence of mixed chimerism after nonmyeloablative procedures has been reported, the exact kinetics of engrafting donor cells in specific cellular lineages has yet to be defined. We investigated lineage-specific chimerism in 15 patients receiving an allogeneic peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) transplant from an HLA-identical (n = 14) or a 5/6 antigen-matched sibling donor after a preparative regimen of cyclophosphamide and fludarabine. Donor chimerism was assessed weekly in T lymphocytes and myeloid cells by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) of minisatellite regions. Eight patients survived between 121 to 409 days after transplant. Ten of 14 patients surviving more than 30 days (71.4%) had delayed disease regression consistent with a graft-versus-malignancy (GVM) effect. One patient rejected the transplant with subsequent recovery of autologous hematopoiesis. Hematological recovery was rapid (median, 11 days to >/=500 neutrophils/microL) and was initially predominantly recipient in origin. Donor myeloid chimerism gradually supplanted recipient hematopoiesis and became fully donor in all survivors by 200 days after transplantation. In contrast, T-cell engraftment was more rapid, with full chimerism in 7 patients by day 30 and in 6 further patients by day 200 after cyclosporine withdrawal and donor lymphocyte infusion. Full donor T-cell engraftment preceded donor myeloid engraftment, acute graft-versus-host disease, and disease regression, consistent with a requirement for 100% donor T-cell chimerism for full expression of the alloresponse. These results emphasize the importance of lineage-specific chimerism analysis to successfully manipulate engraftment after nonmyeloablative allogeneic PBSC transplantation.

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