T-Cell recovery in adults and children following umbilical cord blood transplantation.
T-cell reconstitution following allogeneic stem cell transplantation may involve thymic education of donor-derived precursors or peripheral expansion of mature T cells transferred in the graft. T cell-receptor excision circles (sjTRECs) are generated within the thymus and identify new thymic emigrants and those that have not divided. We measured quantitative and qualitative immunologic reconstitution and sjTREC levels in adult and pediatric recipients of umbilical cord blood transplants (UCBTs). sjTRECs were detected at normal levels in all children, starting 12 months after transplantation. sjTRECs were not detected until 18 months after transplantation in adults, and then only at a 3-fold lower level than expected for age. We used complementarity-determining region 3 (CDR3) spectratyping to measure changes in T cell-receptor diversity occurring with restoration of thymic function. T-cell repertoires were skewed in adults and children at 12 to 18 months after transplantation but recovered to near-normal diversity at 2 to 3 years post-UCBT. T-cell repertoires appeared more diverse earlier in children (at 1 to 2 years post-UCBT) than in adults (at 3 to 4 years post-UCBT). We conclude that early T-cell recovery after UCBT occurs primarily through peripheral expansion of adoptively transferred donor T cells and results in skewing of the T-cell repertoire. The reappearance of sjTREC-containing cells after UCBT is associated with increasing numbers of phenotypicaly naive T cells, improved mitogen and recall antigen responses, and diversification of the T-cell repertoire. The delay in central T-cell recovery in adults relative to children may be due to differences in thymic function resulting from age-related atrophy, graft-versus-host disease, or the pharmacologic effects of prophylaxis and treatment of graft-versus-host disease.
Klein, AK; Patel, DD; Gooding, ME; Sempowski, GD; Chen, BJ; Liu, C; Kurtzberg, J; Haynes, BF; Chao, NJ
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