Suicidal lymphocytes could greatly expand the role of allogeneic transplantation by reducing graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) as a barrier to transplantation, but optimization of their use is hindered by the lack of adequate animal models. To develop an animal model that used retrovirally transduced suicidal lymphocytes in a GVHD setting, a well-characterized MHC-matched murine transplant model (B10.BR→AKR/J) was adapted. B10.BR splenic lymphocytes stimulated with concanavalin A and interleukin 2 were infected with a retrovirus containing the low-affinity nerve growth factor receptor (LNGFR) and the HSV-TK gene and immunomagnetically selected; these LNGFR+/TK+ allogeneic lymphocytes were then cotransplanted with 1 × 107 bone marrow cells into lethally irradiated AKR/J recipients. The LNGFR+/TK+ donor lymphocytes persisted in the peripheral circulation for 6 months in both syngeneic and allogeneic settings. Doses of 2 × 106 TK+ allogeneic lymphocytes produced GVHD with a severity and time course similar to that induced by naive lymphocytes. Survival of TK+ allogeneic lymphocyte-bearing mice was significantly improved (P = 0.01) when ganciclovir (GCV; 2 mg/day) was administered on days 7-13 post transplant by i.p. injection, demonstrating that GVHD could be prevented. Fluorescence-activated cell sorting analysis demonstrated 4-fold reduction but persistent circulation of LNGFR+ lymphocytes in mice treated with GCV at various time points 1-3 months after transplantation, demonstrating selective killing of GVHD-reactive cells. We conclude that retrovirally transduced LNGFR+/TK+ murine lymphocytes can be produced, persist after transplant, remain alloreactive, and can be killed by GCV administration, resulting in reduced GVHD.
|Number of pages
|Published - 15 Apr 2001