Genetically modified donor T cells with an inducible "suicide" gene have the potential to improve the safety and availability of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation by enhancing engraftment and permitting control of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). However, several clinical studies of gene-modified T cells have shown limited to no in vivo function of the ex vivo expanded T cells. Using the well-established dog model of allogeneic marrow transplantation, the question was asked if retrovirally transduced, donor derived, ex vivo expanded cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) that are recipient specific could enhance engraftment of dog leukocyte antigen (DLA)-haploidentical marrow following a single dose of 9.2 Gy total body irradiation and no postgrafting immunosuppression. In this setting, only 4 of 11 control recipients of DLA-haploidentical marrow without added CTLs engrafted. CTLs did not enhance engraftment of CD34 + selected peripheral blood stem cells. However, recipient-specific CTLs enhanced engraftment of DLA-haploidentical marrow in 9 of 11 evaluable recipients (P = .049). All dogs that engrafted developed multiorgan GVHD. To facilitate in vivo tracking, 8 dogs received CTLs transduced with a retroviral vector encoding green fluorescent protein (GFP) and neomycin phosphotransferase (neo). Recipients that engrafted had sharp increases in the numbers of circulating GFP + CTLs on days +5 to +6 after transplantation. GFP + CTLs isolated from blood were capable of recipient-specific lysis. At necropsy, up to 7.1% of CD3 + cells in tissues were GFP + and polymerase chain reaction in situ hybridization for neo showed infiltration of transduced CTLs in GVHD-affected organs. These results show that ex vivo expanded, transduced T cells maintained in vivo function and enhanced marrow engraftment.
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