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Blood. 1992 May 15;79(10):2775-83.

Evolution of mixed chimerism after allogeneic bone marrow transplantation as determined on granulocytes and mononuclear cells by the polymerase chain reaction.

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Transplantation Immunology Unit, Hôpital cantonal universitaire, Geneva, Switzerland.


To evaluate the clinical relevance of mixed chimerism (MC) after allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT), we developed a method based on amplification of DNA minisatellites by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). This sensitive method by which MC lower than 1% can be detected is applicable to any patient-donor pair. Furthermore, because the analysis requires only small amounts of DNA, it allowed us to analyze samples early after BMT and during graft rejection. Results were obtained within 48 hours after blood sampling. Determination of MC in granulocytes (GR) and in mononuclear cells (Mnc) was performed in 20 patients treated for various hematologic malignancies. In patients who received untreated BM, recipient cells disappeared rapidly after BMT. In patients transplanted with T-cell-depleted BM, MC occurred in 15 of 16 cases. The percentage of host Mnc was always significantly higher than the percentage of host GR. The evolution of MC in patients who received T-cell-depleted marrow showed distinct patterns depending on whether patients remained in continuous complete remission, relapsed, or rejected their grafts. During complete remission, a relatively stable and significant number of host cells could be detected during the first 2 years after transplantation. Thereafter, their number decreased, but even after 4 years, low numbers of host cells could persist. When the patients relapsed, an increase in host Mnc was monitored without significant changes in the number of donor Mnc. In contrast, after the relapse, donor GR were no longer detected. Two cases of graft rejection were studied. Directly after the onset of the rejection, donor GR and Mnc disappeared rapidly. During that period, no significant changes in the number of host Mnc were detected.

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