Characterisation of CTL directed towards non-inherited maternal alloantigens in human cord blood

A. Moretta, F. Locatelli, G. Mingrat, G. Rondini, D. Montagna, P. Comoli, S. Gandossini, E. Montini, M. Labirio, R. Maccario

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Allogeneic cord blood transplantation (CBT), especially from unrelated donors, is being increasingly used for treating paediatric patients with both malignant and nonmalignant disorders. Recent clinical and experimental evidence suggests that human cord blood mononuclear cells (CBMC) may acquire in utero a state of tolerance towards non-inherited maternal antigens (NIMA). In order to better define this phenomenon, we measured, by means of a limiting dilution assay (LDA), the frequency of NIMA-specific CTL precursors (CTLp) in cord blood samples obtained from 13 healthy neonates. The immunophenotype of the effector cells recovered from LDA was also analysed. Data concerning both CTLp frequency and phenotype of effector cells were compared with those obtained stimulating CBMC with cells of paternal origin (NIPA) and adult PBMC with allogeneic targets. Results showed that cytotoxic cells directed towards cells of maternal origin could be detected in all cord blood samples tested. Phenotype analysis demonstrated that NIPA elicit the expansion of CD3+/CD8(bright) T cells, a phenotype associated with alloreactive CTL. By contrast, NIMA preferentially stimulated the expansion of CD3-/CD8(dim+) cells, a phenotype associated with NK cells, which are known to be able, in certain clinical conditions, to kill allogeneic haematopoietic cells without causing GVHD. Thus, our results indicate that, when evaluated in a limiting dilution condition, NIMA-reactive cord blood cells are detectable and a preferential expansion of NK cells is observed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1161-1166
Number of pages6
JournalBone Marrow Transplantation
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • Alloreactive response
  • Cord blood
  • Lymphocyte subsets
  • Transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Transplantation


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