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J Clin Invest. 2005 Nov;115(11):3093-103. Epub 2005 Oct 13.

NKT cell-dependent leukemia eradication following stem cell mobilization with potent G-CSF analogs.

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Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.


NKT cells have pivotal roles in immune regulation and tumor immunosurveillance. We report that the G-CSF and FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3 ligand (Flt-3L) chimeric cytokine, progenipoietin-1, markedly expands the splenic and hepatic NKT cell population and enhances functional responses to alpha-galactosylceramide. In a murine model of allogeneic stem cell transplantation, donor NKT cells promoted host DC activation and enhanced perforin-restricted CD8+ T cell cytotoxicity against host-type antigens. Following leukemic challenge, donor treatment with progenipoietin-1 significantly improved overall survival when compared with G-CSF or control, attributable to reduced graft-versus-host disease mortality and paradoxical augmentation of graft-versus-leukemia (GVL) effects. Enhanced cellular cytotoxicity was dependent on donor NKT cells, and leukemia clearance was profoundly impaired in recipients of NKT cell-deficient grafts. Enhanced cytotoxicity and GVL effects were not associated with Flt-3L signaling or effects on DCs but were reproduced by prolonged G-CSF receptor engagement with pegylated G-CSF. Thus, modified G-CSF signaling during stem cell mobilization augments NKT cell-dependent CD8+ cytotoxicity, effectively separating graft-versus-host disease and GVL and greatly expanding the potential applicability of allogeneic stem cell transplantation for the therapy of malignant disease.

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