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Leukemia. 2013 Jun;27(6):1328-38. doi: 10.1038/leu.2012.374. Epub 2013 Jan 1.

γδT cells elicited by CMV reactivation after allo-SCT cross-recognize CMV and leukemia.

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Department of Hematology and Immunology, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Human cytomegalovirus (CMV) infections and relapse of disease remain major problems after allogeneic stem cell transplantation (allo-SCT), in particular in combination with CMV-negative donors or cordblood transplantations. Recent data suggest a paradoxical association between CMV reactivation after allo-SCT and reduced leukemic relapse. Given the potential of Vδ2-negative γδT cells to recognize CMV-infected cells and tumor cells, the molecular biology of distinct γδT-cell subsets expanding during CMV reactivation after allo-SCT was investigated. Vδ2(neg) γδT-cell expansions after CMV reactivation were observed not only with conventional but also cordblood donors. Expanded γδT cells were capable of recognizing both CMV-infected cells and primary leukemic blasts. CMV and leukemia reactivity were restricted to the same clonal population, whereas other Vδ2(neg) T cells interact with dendritic cells (DCs). Cloned Vδ1 T-cell receptors (TCRs) mediated leukemia reactivity and DC interactions, but surprisingly not CMV reactivity. Interestingly, CD8αα expression appeared to be a signature of γδT cells after CMV exposure. However, functionally, CD8αα was primarily important in combination with selected leukemia-reactive Vδ1 TCRs, demonstrating for the first time a co-stimulatory role of CD8αα for distinct γδTCRs. Based on these observations, we advocate the exploration of adoptive transfer of unmodified Vδ2(neg) γδT cells after allo-SCT to tackle CMV reactivation and residual leukemic blasts, as well as application of leukemia-reactive Vδ1 TCR-engineered T cells as alternative therapeutic tools.

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