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Blood. 1997 Dec 1;90(11):4651-60.

Interleukin-12 preserves the graft-versus-leukemia effect of allogeneic CD8 T cells while inhibiting CD4-dependent graft-versus-host disease in mice.

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  • 1BMT Section, Transplantation Biology Research Center, Surgical Service, Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02129, USA.


We have recently demonstrated that a single injection of 4,900 IU of interleukin-12 (IL-12) on the day of bone marrow transplantation (BMT) markedly inhibits acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) in a fully major histocompatibility complex plus minor antigen-mismatched BMT model (A/J --> B10, H-2(a) --> H-2(b)), in which donor CD4(+) T cells are required for the induction of acute GVHD. We show here that donor CD8-dependent graft-versus-leukemia (GVL) effects against EL4 (H-2(b)) leukemia/lymphoma can be preserved while GVHD is inhibited by IL-12 in this model. In mice in which IL-12 mediated a significant protective effect against GVHD, marked GVL effects of allogeneic T cells against EL4 were observed. GVL effects against EL4 depended on CD8-mediated alloreactivity, protection was not observed in recipients of either syngeneic (B10) or CD8-depleted allogeneic spleen cells. Furthermore, we analyzed IL-12-treated recipients of EL4 and A/J spleen cells which survived for more than 100 days. No EL4 cells were detected in these mice by flow cytometry, tissue culture, adoptive transfer, necropsies, or histologic examination. Both GVL effects and the inhibitory effect of IL-12 on GVHD were diminished by neutralizing anti-interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) monoclonal antibody. This study demonstrates that IL-12-induced IFN-gamma production plays a role in the protective effect of IL-12 against GVHD. Furthermore, IFN-gamma is involved in the GVL effect against EL4 leukemia, demonstrating that protection from CD4-mediated GVHD and CD8-dependent anti-leukemic activity can be provided by a single cytokine, IFN-gamma. These observations may provide the basis for a new approach to inhibiting GVHD while preserving GVL effects of alloreactivity.

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