Treatment with immunotoxin.
T-cell depletion prior to or beginning at the time of transplantation has been shown to be a valuable adjunct to the induction of immunological unresponsiveness. Both total lymphoid irradiation and anti-lymphocyte globulin have been used for this purpose in experimental models of transplantation as well as in human organ transplant recipients. However, these methods of T-cell depletion are limited in their ability to deplete T cells selectively due to non-specific targeting and limited efficacy. A new anti-CD3 immunotoxin has been developed with a far more potent ability to deplete T cells selectively as measured by flow cytometry analysis of peripheral blood T lymphocytes as well as lymph node lymphocytes. This immunotoxin is well tolerated by rhesus monkeys when administered in vivo. When administered as a single immunosuppressive agent pretransplant, it substantially promotes allograft survival, inducing tolerance in at least one-third of recipients as measured by subsequent acceptance of donor skin grafts and rejection of third-party skin grafts. When administered on the day of transplant in combination with steroid pretreatment and a brief course of deoxyspergualin or mycophenolate mofetil (4 to 14 days), long-term unresponsiveness is also produced and in a more reliable manner than using immunotoxin alone. A new immunotoxin directed at the human CD3epsilon has been developed with excellent potency in T-cell killing and lacking the Fc portion of the CD3 antibody. This construct may be useful for T-cell depletion in humans and has a potential application in tolerance induction in human organ transplantation. Lessons learned from anti-CD3 immunotoxin in the non-human primate model to date include (i) profound (2-3 log) depletion of T-cells can be accomplished safely without inducing lymphoma or infection, (ii) such depletion is a useful adjunct for tolerance induction to allogeneic organ transplants, and (iii) tolerance to both allogeneic renal transplants and xenogeneic islet transplants has been accomplished using such strategies to date in non-human primates and in pigs. Immunotoxin may be useful for the induction of chimerism using strategies that include donor bone marrow infusion. Successful strategies for tolerance induction have also been developed using immunotoxin without the adjunct of donor bone marrow or stem cell infusion. Clinical application of immunotoxin will use a newly engineered construct with the potential for causing cytokine release, less susceptibility to neutralization by anti-diphtheria antibody and not dependent on chemical conjugation of an antibody and toxin. The usefulness of immunotoxin is directly related to its tremendous potency for depleting T cells. Based on results in nonhuman primates, it is anticipated that it will become a useful agent in tolerance induction in humans.
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