In allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HSCT), donor T lymphocytes mediate the graft-versus-leukemia (GVL) effect, but induce graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). Suicide gene therapy - that is, the genetic induction of a conditional suicide phenotype into donor T cells - allows dissociating the GVL effect from GVHD. Genetic modification with retroviral vectors after CD3 activation reduces T-cell alloreactivity. We recently found that alloreactivity is maintained when CD28 costimulation, IL-7, and IL-15 are added. Herein, we used the minor histocompatibility (mH) antigens HA-1 and H-Y as model alloantigens to directly explore the antileukemia efficacy of human T cells modified with the prototypic suicide gene herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase (tk) after activation with different stimuli. Only in the case of CD28 costimulation, IL-7, and IL-15, the repertoire of tk+ T cells contained HA-1- and H-Y-specific CD8+ cytotoxic T cells (CTL) precursors. Thymidine kinase-positive HA-1- and H-Y- specific CTLs were capable of self-renewal and differentiation into potent antileukemia effectors in vitro, and in vivo in a humanized mouse model. Self-renewal and differentiation coincided with IL-7 receptor expression. These results pave the way to the clinical investigation of T cells modified with a suicide gene after CD28 costimulation, IL-7, and IL-15 for a safe and effective GVL effect.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology