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Blood. 2008 Dec 1;112(12):4755-64. doi: 10.1182/blood-2008-02-142737. Epub 2008 Sep 24.

Rapidly proliferating CD44hi peripheral T cells undergo apoptosis and delay posttransplantation T-cell reconstitution after allogeneic bone marrow transplantation.

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Department of Medicine and Immunology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY 10021, USA.


Delayed T-cell recovery is an important complication of allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT). We demonstrate in murine models that donor BM-derived T cells display increased apoptosis in recipients of allogeneic BMT with or without GVHD. Although this apoptosis was associated with a loss of Bcl-2 and Bcl-X(L) expression, allogeneic recipients of donor BM deficient in Fas-, tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL)- or Bax-, or BM-overexpressing Bcl-2 or Akt showed no decrease in apoptosis of peripheral donor-derived T cells. CD44 expression was associated with an increased percentage of BM-derived apoptotic CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells. Transplantation of RAG-2-eGFP-transgenic BM revealed that proliferating eGFP(lo)CD44(hi) donor BM-derived mature T cells were more likely to undergo to apoptosis than nondivided eGFP(hi)CD44(lo) recent thymic emigrants in the periphery. Finally, experiments using carboxyfluorescein succinimidyl ester-labeled T cells adoptively transferred into irradiated syngeneic hosts revealed that rapid spontaneous proliferation (as opposed to slow homeostatic proliferation) and acquisition of a CD44(hi) phenotype was associated with increased apoptosis in T cells. We conclude that apoptosis of newly generated donor-derived peripheral T cells after an allogeneic BMT contributes to delayed T-cell reconstitution and is associated with CD44 expression and rapid spontaneous proliferation by donor BM-derived T cells.

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