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Blood. 2000 Aug 15;96(4):1334-41.

Mild preconditioning and low-level engraftment confer methotrexate resistance in mice transplanted with marrow expressing drug-resistant dihydrofolate reductase activity.

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  • 1Gene Therapy Program, Institute of Human Genetics, Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA.


Effective engraftment of hematopoietic cells targeted for gene transfer is facilitated by cytoreductive preconditioning such as high-dose total body irradiation (TBI). To minimize the adverse side effects associated with TBI, experiments were conducted to determine whether sublethal doses of TBI would allow sufficient engraftment of MTX-resistant hematopoietic cells to confer survival on recipient mice administered MTX. FVB/N animals were administered 1, 2, or 4 Gy TBI (lethal dose, 8.5 Gy), transplanted with 10(7) FVB/N transgenic marrow cells expressing an MTX-resistant dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) transgene, and then administered MTX daily for 60 days. Control mice administered 1 Gy with or without subsequent transplantation of normal marrow cells succumbed to MTX toxicity by day 45. In contrast, nearly all animals transplanted with transgenic marrow survived MTX administration, regardless of the TBI dose used for preconditioning. The donor DHFR transgenic marrow engraftment level was proportional to the preconditioning dose of TBI but was surprisingly reduced in animals given 2 or 4 Gy TBI and subsequently administered MTX when compared with control animals administered phosphate-buffered saline. Animals preconditioned with 1 Gy were also protected from MTX toxicity when transplanted with reduced amounts (5 x 10(6) and 1 x 10(6) cells) of DHFR transgenic donor marrow, resulting in low-level (approximately 1%) engraftment. In conclusion, very mild preconditioning allows sufficient low-level engraftment of genetically modified stem cells for in vivo manifestation of the modified phenotype, suggesting the usefulness of mild preconditioning regimens in human gene therapy trials targeting hematopoietic stem cells. (Blood. 2000;96:1334-1341)

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