Chimerism and tolerance to host and donor in severe combined immunodeficiencies transplanted with fetal liver stem cells

Rosa Bacchetta, Bart A E Vandekerckhove, Jean Louis Touraine, Mike Bigler, Silvana Martino, Lucette Gebuhrer, Jan E. De Vries, Hergen Spits, Maria Grazia Roncarolo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We have studied the peripheral T cell repertoire of two patients with severe combined immunodeficiency who were successfully treated with human histocompatibility leukocyte antigen (HLA)-mismatched fetal liver stem cell transplantation. The patients presented a split chimerism. T cells were of donor origin, whereas the B cells / monocytes were of the host phenotype. Interestingly, the natural killer (NK) cells in one patient were donor derived and in the other patient of host origin. The NK cells were functional but did not have antihost or donor reactivity. Despite the HLA mismatch between donor and host cells, complete tolerance was achieved in vivo, and a specific unresponsiveness of peripheral blood mononuclear cells from both patients toward the host cells was demonstrated in vitro. Nevertheless, we could isolate T cell receptor (TCR)αβ, CD4+ or CD8+, T cell clones specifically reacting with HLA class I and II molecules of the host. The CD4+ host-reactive T cell clones from both patients produced interleukins 2 and 5, interferon-γ, granulocyte / macrophage colony-stimulating factor but are specifically defective in interleukin 4 production. The frequencies of CD8+ host-reactive T cells were high, and were in the same range as those observed for CD8+ alloreactive T cells. In contrast, no donor-reactive CD8+ T cells or host or donor-reactive TCRγδ+ T cells were detected. These data indicate that, after fetal stem cell transplantation, donor-reactive, but not host-reactive cells, are deleted from the T cell repertoire. Therefore, a peripheral mechanism of suppression or clonal anergy, rather than clonal deletion, is involved in maintaining in vivo tolerance toward the host.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1067-1078
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Clinical Investigation
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1993


  • Chimerism
  • Fetal stem cell transplantation
  • Host reactivity
  • Severe combined immunodeficiency
  • Transplantation tolerance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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