The genetic modification of T cells with a suicide gene grants a mechanism of control of adverse reactions, allowing safe infusion after partially incompatible hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). In the TK007 clinical trial, 22 adults with hematologic malignancies experienced a rapid and sustained immune recovery after T cell-depleted HSCT and serial infusions of purified donor T cells expressing the HSV thymidine kinase suicide gene (TK + cells). After a first wave of circulating TK+ cells, the majority of T cells supporting long-term immune reconstitution did not carry the suicide gene and displayed high numbers of naive lymphocytes, suggesting the thymus-dependent development of T cells, occurring only upon TK +-cell engraftment. Accordingly, after the infusions, we documented an increase in circulating TCR excision circles and CD31+ recent thymic emigrants and a substantial expansion of the active thymic tissue as shown by chest tomography scans. Interestingly, a peak in the serum level of IL-7 was observed after each infusion of TK+ cells, anticipating the appearance of newly generated T cells. The results of the present study show that the infusion of genetically modified donor T cells after HSCT can drive the recovery of thymic activity in adults, leading to immune reconstitution.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology