Interleukin-7 permits Th1/Tc1 maturation and promotes ex vivo expansion of cord blood T cells: a critical step toward adoptive immunotherapy after cord blood transplantation.
Donor leukocyte infusions (DLI) in the allogeneic hematopoietic transplant setting can provide a clinically relevant boost of immunity to reduce opportunistic infections and to increase graft-versus-leukemia activity. Despite significant advances in applicability, DLI has not been available for single-unit recipients of unrelated cord blood transplant. Ex vivo expansion of cord blood T cells can be achieved with interleukin (IL)-2 and CD3/CD28 costimulatory beads. However, significant apoptosis occurs in proliferating T cells, diminishing the yield and skewing the CD4/CD8 ratio in the T-cell population, jeopardizing the potential efficacy of DLI. In this study, we show that interleukin (IL)-7 not only reduces apoptosis of activated T lymphocytes and enhances their proliferation but also promotes functional maturation, leading to secretion of IFN-gamma and other key cytokines. Recognizing that infused T lymphocytes will need to meet microbial antigens in secondary lymphoid organs to generate effectors, we also show that expansion with IL-7 promotes the preservation of a polyclonal broad T-cell receptor repertoire and a surface phenotype that favors lymph node homing. Expanded lymphocytes lack alloreactivity against recipient and other allogeneic cells, indicating a favorable safety profile from graft-versus-host disease. Nevertheless, expanded T cells can be primed subsequently against lymphoid and myeloid leukemia cells to generate tumor-specific cytotoxic T cells. Taken together, our findings offer a major step in fulfilling critical numerical and biological requirements to quickly generate a DLI product ex vivo using a negligible fraction of a cord blood graft that provides a flexible adoptive immunotherapy platform for both children and adults.
Davis, CC; Marti, LC; Sempowski, GD; Jeyaraj, DA; Szabolcs, P
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