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Nat Med. 2003 Sep;9(9):1144-50. Epub 2003 Aug 17.

CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells preserve graft-versus-tumor activity while inhibiting graft-versus-host disease after bone marrow transplantation.

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Division of Bone Marrow Transplantation, Department of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, 300 Pasteur Drive, Stanford, California 94305, USA.


Mature donor T cells cause graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), but they are also the main mediators of the beneficial graft-versus-tumor (GVT) activity of allogeneic bone marrow transplantation. Suppression of GVHD with maintenance of GVT activity is a desirable outcome for clinical transplantation. We have previously shown that donor-derived CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells inhibit lethal GVHD after allogeneic bone marrow transplantation across major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I and II barriers in mice. Here we demonstrate that in host mice with leukemia and lymphoma, CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells suppress the early expansion of alloreactive donor T cells, their interleukin-2-receptor (IL-2R) alpha-chain expression and their capacity to induce GVHD without abrogating their GVT effector function, mediated primarily by the perforin lysis pathway. Thus, CD4+CD25+ T cells are potent regulatory cells that can separate GVHD from GVT activity mediated by conventional donor T cells.

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