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Cancer Sci. 2011 Jul;102(7):1281-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1349-7006.2011.01949.x. Epub 2011 May 9.

Mismatched human leukocyte antigen class II-restricted CD8⁺ cytotoxic T cells may mediate selective graft-versus-leukemia effects following allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation.

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Division of Immunology, Aichi Cancer Center Research Institute, Nagoya, Japan.


Partial human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-mismatched hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is often performed when an HLA-matched donor is not available. In these cases, CD8(+) or CD4(+) T cell responses are induced depending on the mismatched HLA class I or II allele(s). Herein, we report on an HLA-DRB1*08:03-restricted CD8(+) CTL clone, named CTL-1H8, isolated from a patient following an HLA-DR-mismatched HSCT from his brother. Lysis of a patient Epstein-Barr virus-transformed B cell line (B-LCL) by CTL-1H8 was inhibited after the addition of blocking antibodies against HLA-DR and CD8, whereas antibodies against pan-HLA class I or CD4 had no effect. The 1H8-CTL clone did not lyse the recipient dermal fibroblasts whose HLA-DRB1*08:03 expression was upregulated after 1 week cytokine treatment. Engraftment of HLA-DRB1*08:03-positive primary leukemic stem cells in non-obese diabetic/severe combined immunodeficient/γc-null (NOG) mice was completely inhibited by the in vitro preincubation of cells with CTL-1H8, suggesting that HLA-DRB1*08:03 is expressed on leukemic stem cells. Finally, analysis of the precursor frequency of CD8(+) CTL specific for recipient antigens in post-HSCT peripheral blood T cells revealed a significant fraction of the total donor CTL responses towards the individual mismatched HLA-DR antigen in two patients. These findings underscore unexpectedly significant CD8 T cell responses in the context of HLA class II.

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