High levels of interleukin 10 production in vivo are associated with tolerance in SCID patients transplanted with HLA mismatched hematopoietic stem cells

Rosa Bacchetta, Mike Bigler, Jean Louis Touraine, Robertson Parkman, Pier Angelo Tovo, John Abrams, René De Waal Malefyt, Jan E. De Vries, Maria Grazia Roncarolo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Transplantation of HLA mismatched hematopoietic stem cells in patients with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) can result in a selective engraftment of T cells of donor origin with complete immunologic reconstitution and in vivo tolerance. The latter may occur in the absence of clonal deletion of donor T lymphocytes able to recognize the host HLA antigens. The activity of these host-reactive T cells is suppressed in vivo, since no graft-vs.-host disease is observed in these human chimeras. Here it is shown that the CD4+ host-reactive T cell clones isolated from a SCID patient transplanted with fetal liver stem cells produce unusually high quantities of interleukin 10 (IL-10) and very low amounts of IL-2 after antigen-specific stimulation in vitro. The specific proliferative responses of the host-reactive T cell clones were considerably enhanced in the presence of neutralizing concentrations of an anti-IL-10 monoclonal antibody, suggesting that high levels of endogenous IL-10 suppress the activity of these cells. These in vitro data correlate with observations made in vivo. Semi-quantitative polymerase chain reaction analysis carried out on freshly isolated peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) of the patient indicated that the levels of IL-10 messenger RNA (mRNA) expression were strongly enhanced, whereas IL-2 mRNA expression was much lower than that in PBMC of healthy donors. In vivo IL-10 mRNA expression was not only high in the T cells, but also in the non-T cell fraction, indicating that host cells also contributed to the high levels of IL-10 in vivo. Patient-derived monocytes were found to be major IL-10 producers. Although no circulating IL-10 could be detected, freshly isolated monocytes of the patient showed a reduced expression of class II HLA antigens. However, their capacity to stimulate T cells of normal donors in primary mixed lymphocyte cultures was within the normal range. Interestingly, similar high in vivo IL-10 mRNA expressions in the T and non-T cell compartment were also observed in three SCID patients transplanted with fetal liver stem cells and in four SCID patients transplanted with T cell-depleted haploidentical bone marrow stem cells. Taken together, these data indicate that high endogenous IL-10 production is a general phenomenon in SCID patients in whom allogeneic stem cell transplantation results in immunologic reconstitution and induction of tolerance. Both donor T cells and host accessory cells contribute to these high levels of IL-10, which would suppress the activity of host-reactive T cell in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-502
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Experimental Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


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