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Best Pract Res Clin Haematol. 2004 Jun;17(2):201-22.

Stem cell transplantation for autoimmune disorders. Preclinical experiments.

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Crucell N. V. Archimedesweg 4 2333 Leiden, The Netherlands.


The clinical use of autologous stem cell transplants for the treatment of refractory severe autoimmune diseases was preceded by convincing proof of its underlying principle in animal models. The various categories of experimental autoimmune disease in laboratory rodents are briefly described here, and the rationale that was used in the selection of suitable experimental autoimmune diseases for translational research is explained. The two models that provided the bulk of the data needed for designing the initial clinical treatment protocols were adjuvant arthritis (AA) and experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE), which were both induced in Buffalo rats. In this strain, AA is manifested as a chronic, progressive, systemic polyarthritis and EAE as a chronic, remitting/relapsing form of encephalomyelitis resembling multiple sclerosis. Both diseases can be cured with autologous stem cell transplantation provided that adequate conditioning is given and that the disease has not yet progressed to the stage of 'scarring'. It is basically the inflammatory stages that respond well to this therapy. The success of treatment depends on how completely the autoantigen-specific activated T-lymphocytes and memory cells are eradicated. Because of a lack of information on the nature of the autoantigens involved in human disease and on the size of those cell populations in the animal models as well as in humans, this aspect of translation is difficult. The experiments have, however, provided important guidelines. High-dose conditioning regimens yield better results than low-dose conditioning, certain conditioning agents perform better than others, and care should be taken not to reintroduce too many T-cells with the autologous graft. The clinical results obtained so far indicate a high predictive power of these two animal models, which are therefore recommended strongly for additional preclinical studies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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