Prevention of transfusion-associated graft-versus-host disease by photochemical treatment

Joshua A. Grass, Tamim Wafa, Aaron Reames, David Wages, Laurence Corash, James L.M. Ferrara, Lily Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

131 Scopus citations


Photochemical treatment (PCT) with the psoralen S-59 and long wavelength ultraviolet light (UVA) inactivates high titers of contaminating viruses, bacteria, and leukocytes in human platelet concentrates. The present study evaluated the efficacy of PCT to prevent transfusion-associated graft- versus-host disease (TA-GVHD) in vivo using a well-characterized parent to F1 murine transfusion model. Recipient mice in four treatment groups were transfused with 108 splenic leukocytes. (1) Control group mice received syngeneic splenic leukocyte transfusions; (2) GVHD group mice received untreated allogeneic splenic leukocytes; (3) gamma radiation group mice received gamma irradiated (2,500 cGy) allogeneic splenic leukocytes; and (4) PCT group mice received allogeneic splenic leukocytes treated with 150 μmol/L S-59 and 2.1 J/cm2 UVA. Multiple biological and clinical parameters were used to monitor the development of TA-GVHD in recipient mice over a 10- week posttransfusion observation period: peripheral blood cell levels, spleen size, engraftment by donor T cells, thymic cellularity, clinical signs of TA- GVHD (weight loss, activity, posture, fur texture, skin integrity), and histologic lesions of liver, spleen, bone marrow, and skin. Mice in the control group remained healthy and free of detectable disease. Mice in the GVHD group developed clinical and histological lesions of TA-GVHD, including pancytopenia, marked splenomegaly, wasting, engraftment with donor derived T cells, and thymic hypoplasia. In contrast, mice transfused with splenic leukocytes treated with (2,500 cGy) gamma radiation or 150 μmol/L S-59 and 2.1 J/cm2 UVA remained healthy and did not develop detectable TA-GVHD. Using an in vitro T-cell proliferation assay, greater than 105.1 murine T cells were inactivated by PCT. Therefore, in addition to inactivating high levels of pathogenic viruses and bacteria in PC, these data indicate that PCT is an effective alternative to gamma irradiation for prevention of TA-GVHD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3140-3147
Number of pages8
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 May 1999


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