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Open Access Reduced Efficacy of Mesenchymal Stromal Cells in Preventing Graft-Versus-Host Disease in an In Vivo Model of Haploidentical Bone Marrow Transplant With Leukemia

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Mesenchymal stromal cell (MSC) immunosuppressive properties have been applied to treat graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) in allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplants (HSCTs). We have previously demonstrated that MSC infusions early after haplo-HSCT prevent GVHD in a haploidentical-HSCT mouse model. Now, we investigated the impact that MSCs' immunosuppressive properties have on the graft-versus-leukemia (GVL) effect. First, to mimic a chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) relapse after a haploidentical HSCT, lethally irradiated mice were coinfused with haploidentical donor bone marrow cells plus syngenic hematopoietic progenitors transduced with a retroviral vector encoding both the BCR/ABL oncogene and the ΔNGFR marker gene. As expected, a CML-like myeloproliferative syndrome developed in all the recipient animals. The addition of haploidentical splenocytes to the transplanted graft prevented CML development by a GVL effect, and all transplanted recipients died of GVHD. This GVL mouse model allowed us to investigate the impact of MSCs infused to prevent GVHD on days 0, 7, and 14 after HSCT, on the GVL effect, expecting an increase in leukemic relapse. Strikingly, a high mortality of the recipients was observed, caused by GVHD, and only few leukemic cells were detected in the recipient animals. In contrast, GVHD prevention by MSCs in the absence of BCR/ABL leukemic cells resulted in a significant survival of the recipients. In vitro data pointed to an inability of MSCs to control strong CTLs responses against BCR/ABL. Our results show that, although an evident increase in leukemic relapses induced by MSCs could not be detected, they showed a reduced efficacy in preventing GVHD that precluded us to draw clear conclusions on MSCs' impact over GVL effect.

Keywords: Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) prevention; Graft-versus-leukemia (GVL) effect; Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs); Mouse model

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: August 9, 2013

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  • Cell Transplantation publishes original, peer-reviewed research and review articles on the subject of cell transplantation and its application to human diseases. To ensure high-quality contributions from all areas of transplantation, separate section editors and editorial boards have been established. Articles deal with a wide range of topics including physiological, medical, preclinical, tissue engineering, and device-oriented aspects of transplantation of nervous system, endocrine, growth factor-secreting, bone marrow, epithelial, endothelial, and genetically engineered cells, among others. Basic clinical studies and immunological research papers are also featured. To provide complete coverage of this revolutionary field, Cell Transplantation will report on relevant technological advances, and ethical and regulatory considerations of cell transplants. Cell Transplantation is now an Open Access journal starting with volume 18 in 2009, and therefore there will be an inexpensive publication charge, which is dependent on the number of pages, in addition to the charge for color figures. This will allow work to be disseminated to a wider audience and also entitle the corresponding author to a free PDF, as well as prepublication of an unedited version of the manuscript.

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