Use of thymic grafts or thymic factors to augment immunologic recovery after bone marrow transplantation: brief report with 2 to 12 years' follow-up.
Thymus tissue implants, thymic epithelial cells obtained from third party donors sharing one HLA-A and -B locus with the recipient, or the thymic hormones thymosin fraction 5 and thymopentin were given to recipients of HLA-identical sibling bone marrow to prevent chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) and accelerate immunologic reconstitution. The clinical courses of 17 patients receiving thymus tissue and 18 patients receiving thymic hormones were reported initially 5 years ago and showed no difference in the incidence of chronic GVHD or immunologic recovery from those of concurrent or historical controls. We report here for the first time nine new patients who received thymus tissue implants with modifications of the culture method to lower the number of lymphocytes in the transplanted tissue with the intent of reducing rejection of the thymus tissue grafts. The clinical outcomes and immunologic functions of these nine patients were similar to those of the recipients of the earlier thymus tissue implants. With follow-up now ranging from 2.2 to 12.3 years (median 6.7) for the total group, 16 patients are alive. Seven never developed chronic GVHD. Nine were treated for chronic GVHD, seven of whom recovered and are leading normal lives, one has chronic pulmonary insufficiency, and one is disabled from chronic GVHD. We conclude that thymus tissue grafts or thymic epithelial cells partially HLA-matched to the recipient, thymosin fraction 5, or thymopentin used as described were not effective in reducing the incidence of chronic GVHD, improving immunologic recovery, or altering long-term survival.
Witherspoon, RP; Sullivan, KM; Lum, LG; Goehle, S; Atkinson, MK; Ochs, HD; Doney, KC; Hansen, JA; Sanders, JE; Storb, R
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