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author:("kohl, Ulrike")
1.  Rapid generation of clinical-grade antiviral T cells: selection of suitable T-cell donors and GMP-compliant manufacturing of antiviral T cells 
The adoptive transfer of allogeneic antiviral T lymphocytes derived from seropositive donors can safely and effectively reduce or prevent the clinical manifestation of viral infections or reactivations in immunocompromised recipients after hematopoietic stem cell (HSCT) or solid organ transplantation (SOT). Allogeneic third party T-cell donors offer an alternative option for patients receiving an allogeneic cord blood transplant or a transplant from a virus-seronegative donor and since donor blood is generally not available for solid organ recipients. Therefore we established a registry of potential third-party T-cell donors (allogeneic cell registry, alloCELL) providing detailed data on the assessment of a specific individual memory T-cell repertoire in response to antigens of cytomegalovirus (CMV), Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), adenovirus (ADV), and human herpesvirus (HHV) 6.
To obtain a manufacturing license according to the German Medicinal Products Act, the enrichment of clinical-grade CMV-specific T cells from three healthy CMV-seropositive donors was performed aseptically under GMP conditions using the CliniMACS cytokine capture system (CCS) after restimulation with an overlapping peptide pool of the immunodominant CMVpp65 antigen. Potential T-cell donors were selected from alloCELL and defined as eligible for clinical-grade antiviral T-cell generation if the peripheral fraction of IFN-γ+ T cells exceeded 0.03% of CD3+ lymphocytes as determined by IFN-γ cytokine secretion assay.
Starting with low concentration of IFN-γ+ T cells (0.07-1.11%) we achieved 81.2%, 19.2%, and 63.1% IFN-γ+CD3+ T cells (1.42 × 106, 0.05 × 106, and 1.15 × 106) after enrichment. Using the CMVpp65 peptide pool for restimulation resulted in the activation of more CMV-specific CD8+ than CD4+ memory T cells, both of which were effectively enriched to a total of 81.0% CD8+IFN-γ+ and 38.4% CD4+IFN-γ+ T cells. In addition to T cells and NKT cells, all preparations contained acceptably low percentages of contaminating B cells, granulocytes, monocytes, and NK cells. The enriched T-cell products were stable over 72 h with respect to viability and ratio of T lymphocytes.
The generation of antiviral CD4+ and CD8+ T cells by CliniMACS CCS can be extended to a broad spectrum of common pathogen-derived peptide pools in single or multiple applications to facilitate and enhance the efficacy of adoptive T-cell immunotherapy.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12967-014-0336-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4335407  PMID: 25510656
Adoptive immunotherapy; Antiviral T cells; alloCELL; GMP-compliant manufacturing; CliniMACS CCS; Stem cell transplantation; Adoptive T-cell transfer
2.  Targeted Cell Entry of Lentiviral Vectors 
Retargeting of lentiviral vector entry to cell types of interest is a key factor in improving the safety and efficacy of gene transfer. In this study we show that the retargetable envelope glycoproteins of measles virus (MV), namely, the hemagglutinin (H) responsible for receptor recognition and the fusion protein (F), can pseudotype human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1) vectors when their cytoplasmic tails are truncated. We then pseudotyped HIV-1 vectors with MV glycoproteins displaying on H either the epidermal growth factor or a single-chain antibody directed against CD20, but without the ability to recognize their native receptors. Gene transfer into cells that expressed the targeted receptor was several orders of magnitude more efficient than into cells that did not. High-target versus nontarget cell discrimination was demonstrated in mixed cell populations, where the targeting vector selectively eliminated CD20-positive cells after suicide gene transfer. Remarkably, primary human CD20-positive B lymphocytes were transduced more efficiently by the CD20-targeted vector than by a vector pseudo-typed with the vesicular stomatitis virus G (VSV-G) protein. In addition, the CD20-targeted vector was able to transduce even unstimulated primary B cells, whereas VSV-G pseudotyped vectors were unable to do so. Because MV enters cells through direct fusion at the cell membrane, this novel targeting system should be widely applicable.
PMCID: PMC3927321  PMID: 18578012
3.  Natural Killer Cells and Antifungal Host Response 
As a result of improved experimental methodologies and a better understanding of the immune system, there is increasing insight into the antifungal activity of natural killer (NK) cells. Murine and human NK cells are able to damage fungi of different genera and species in vitro, and they exert both direct and indirect antifungal activity through cytotoxic molecules such as perforin and through cytokines and interferons, respectively. On the other hand, recent data suggest that fungi exhibit immunosuppressive effects on NK cells. Whereas clear in vivo data are lacking in humans, the importance of NK cells in the host response against fungi has been demonstrated in animal models. Further knowledge of the interaction of NK cells with fungi might help to better understand the pathogenesis of invasive fungal infections and to improve treatment strategies.
PMCID: PMC3623417  PMID: 23365210
5.  Clinical Grade Purification and Expansion of NK Cell Products for an Optimized Manufacturing Protocol 
Frontiers in Oncology  2013;3:118.
Allogeneic natural killer (NK) cells are used for adoptive immunotherapy after stem cell transplantation. In order to overcome technical limitations in NK cell purification and activation, the following study investigates the impact of different variables on NK cell recovery, cytotoxicity, and T-cell depletion during good manufacturing practice (GMP)-grade NK cell selection. Forty NK cell products were derived from 54 unstimulated donor leukaphereses using immunomagnetic CD3 T-cell depletion, followed by a CD56 cell enrichment step. For T-cell depletion, either the depletion 2.1 program in single or double procedure (D2.11depl, n = 18; D2.12depl, n = 13) or the faster depletion 3.1 (D3.1, n = 9) was used on the CliniMACS instrument. Seventeen purified NK cell products were activated in vitro by IL-2 for 12 days. The whole process resulted in a median number of 7.59 × 108 CD56+CD3− cells with both purity and viability of 94%, respectively. The T-cell depletion was significantly better using D2.11depl/2depl compared to D3.1 (log 4.6/log 4.9 vs. log 3.7; p < 0.01) and double procedure in two stages led always to residual T cells below 0.1%. In contrast D3.1 was superior to D2.11depl/2depl with regard to recovery of CD56+CD3− NK cells (68% vs. 41%/38%). Concomitant monocytes and especially IL-2 activation led to increased NK cell activity against malignant target cells compared to unstimulated NK cells, which correlated with both up-regulation of natural cytotoxicity receptors and intracellular signaling. Overall, wide variations in the NK cell expansion rate and the distribution of NK cell subpopulations were found. In conclusion, our results indicate that GMP-grade purification of NK cells might be improved by a sequential processing of T-cell depletion program D2.1 and D3.1. In addition NK cell expansion protocols need to be further optimized.
PMCID: PMC3656406  PMID: 23730623
NK cell purification; NK cell expansion; cytotoxicity; IL-2 activation; T-cell removal
6.  Sequential Anti-Cytomegalovirus Response Monitoring May Allow Prediction of Cytomegalovirus Reactivation after Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplantation 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e50248.
Reconstitution of cytomegalovirus-specific CD3+CD8+ T cells (CMV-CTLs) after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is necessary to bring cytomegalovirus (CMV) reactivation under control. However, the parameters determining protective CMV-CTL reconstitution remain unclear to date.
Design and Methods
In a prospective tri-center study, CMV-CTL reconstitution was analyzed in the peripheral blood from 278 patients during the year following HSCT using 7 commercially available tetrameric HLA-CMV epitope complexes. All patients included could be monitored with at least CMV-specific tetramer.
CMV-CTL reconstitution was detected in 198 patients (71%) after allogeneic HSCT. Most importantly, reconstitution with 1 CMV-CTL per µl blood between day +50 and day +75 post-HSCT discriminated between patients with and without CMV reactivation in the R+/D+ patient group, independent of the CMV-epitope recognized. In addition, CMV-CTLs expanded more daramtaically in patients experiencing only one CMV-reactivation than those without or those with multiple CMV reactivations. Monitoring using at least 2 tetramers was possible in 63% (n = 176) of the patients. The combinations of particular HLA molecules influenced the numbers of CMV-CTLs detected. The highest CMV-CTL count obtained for an individual tetramer also changed over time in 11% of these patients (n = 19) resulting in higher levels of HLA-B*0801 (IE-1) recognizing CMV-CTLs in 14 patients.
Our results indicate that 1 CMV-CTL per µl blood between day +50 to +75 marks the beginning of an immune response against CMV in the R+/D+ group. Detection of CMV-CTL expansion thereafter indicates successful resolution of the CMV reactivation. Thus, sequential monitoring of CMV-CTL reconstitution can be used to predict patients at risk for recurrent CMV reactivation.
PMCID: PMC3521740  PMID: 23272059
7.  Human Natural Killer Cells Exhibit Direct Activity Against Aspergillus fumigatus Hyphae, But Not Against Resting Conidia 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2011;203(3):430-435.
Because natural killer (NK) cells kill tumor cells and combat infections, there is growing interest in adoptively transferring NK cells to hematopoietic stem cell recipients. Unfortunately, in humans, the activity of NK cells against Aspergillus species, the major cause of invasive fungal infection in stem cell recipients, are poorly characterized. Our results show that unstimulated and interleukin-2 prestimulated human NK cells kill Aspergillus fumigatus hyphae but do not affect resting conidia. Killing is also induced by the supernatant of prestimulated NK cells and human perforin. The high levels of interferon-γ and granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor produced by prestimulated NK cells are significantly reduced by Aspergillus, indicating an immunosuppressive effect of the fungus. Whereas Aspergillus hyphae activate NK cells, resting, and germinating, conidia and conidia of ΔrodA mutants lacking the hydrophobic surface layer do not. Our results suggest that adoptively transferred human NK cells may be a potential antifungal tool in the transplantation context.
PMCID: PMC3071101  PMID: 21208932
8.  IL-2 Stimulated but Not Unstimulated NK Cells Induce Selective Disappearance of Peripheral Blood Cells: Concomitant Results to a Phase I/II Study 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e27351.
In an ongoing clinical phase I/II study, 16 pediatric patients suffering from high risk leukemia/tumors received highly purified donor natural killer (NK) cell immunotherapy (NK-DLI) at day (+3) +40 and +100 post haploidentical stem cell transplantation. However, literature about the influence of NK-DLI on recipient's immune system is scarce. Here we present concomitant results of a noninvasive in vivo monitoring approach of recipient's peripheral blood (PB) cells after transfer of either unstimulated (NK-DLI(unstim)) or IL-2 (1000 U/ml, 9–14 days) activated NK cells (NK-DLI(IL-2 stim)) along with their ex vivo secreted cytokine/chemokines. We performed phenotypical and functional characterizations of the NK-DLIs, detailed flow cytometric analyses of various PB cells and comprehensive cytokine/chemokine arrays before and after NK-DLI. Patients of both groups were comparable with regard to remission status, immune reconstitution, donor chimerism, KIR mismatching, stem cell and NK-DLI dose. Only after NK-DLI(IL-2 stim) was a rapid, almost complete loss of CD56(bright)CD16(dim/−) immune regulatory and CD56(dim)CD16(+) cytotoxic NK cells, monocytes, dendritic cells and eosinophils from PB circulation seen 10 min after infusion, while neutrophils significantly increased. The reduction of NK cells was due to both, a decrease in patients' own CD69(−) NCR(low)CD62L(+) NK cells as well as to a diminishing of the transferred cells from the NK-DLI(IL-2 stim) with the CD56(bright)CD16(+/−)CD69(+)NCR(high)CD62L(−) phenotype. All cell counts recovered within the next 24 h. Transfer of NK-DLI(IL-2 stim) translated into significantly increased levels of various cytokines/chemokines (i.e. IFN-γ, IL-6, MIP-1β) in patients' PB. Those remained stable for at least 1 h, presumably leading to endothelial activation, leukocyte adhesion and/or extravasation. In contrast, NK-DLI(unstim) did not cause any of the observed effects. In conclusion, we assume that the adoptive transfer of NK-DLI(IL-2 stim) under the influence of ex vivo and in vivo secreted cytokines/chemokines may promote NK cell trafficking and therefore might enhance efficacy of immunotherapy.
PMCID: PMC3212563  PMID: 22096557
9.  Mesenchymal stromal cells for treatment of steroid-refractory GvHD: a review of the literature and two pediatric cases 
Severe acute graft versus host disease (GvHD) is a life-threatening complication after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Human mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) play an important role in endogenous tissue repair and possess strong immune-modulatory properties making them a promising tool for the treatment of steroid-refractory GvHD. To date, a few reports exist on the use of MSCs in treatment of GvHD in children indicating that children tend to respond better than adults, albeit with heterogeneous results.
We here present a review of the literature and the clinical course of two instructive pediatric patients with acute steroid-refractory GvHD after haploidentical stem cell transplantation, which exemplify the beneficial effects of third-party transplanted MSCs in treatment of acute steroid-refractory GvHD. Moreover, we provide a meta-analysis of clinical studies addressing the outcome of patients with steroid-refractory GvHD and treatment with MSCs in adults and in children (n = 183; 122 adults, 61 children). Our meta-analysis demonstrates that the overall response-rate is high (73.8%) and confirms, for the first time, that children indeed respond better to treatment of GvHD with MSCs than adults (complete response 57.4% vs. 45.1%, respectively).
These data emphasize the significance of this therapeutic approach especially in children and indicate that future prospective studies are needed to assess the reasons for the observed differential response-rates in pediatric and adult patients.
PMCID: PMC3169455  PMID: 21843360
10.  Early Production of IL-22 but Not IL-17 by Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells Exposed to live Borrelia burgdorferi: The Role of Monocytes and Interleukin-1 
PLoS Pathogens  2010;6(10):e1001144.
If insufficiently treated, Lyme borreliosis can evolve into an inflammatory disorder affecting skin, joints, and the CNS. Early innate immunity may determine host responses targeting infection. Thus, we sought to characterize the immediate cytokine storm associated with exposure of PBMC to moderate levels of live Borrelia burgdorferi. Since Th17 cytokines are connected to host defense against extracellular bacteria, we focused on interleukin (IL)-17 and IL-22. Here, we report that, despite induction of inflammatory cytokines including IL-23, IL-17 remained barely detectable in response to B. burgdorferi. In contrast, T cell-dependent expression of IL-22 became evident within 10 h of exposure to the spirochetes. This dichotomy was unrelated to interferon-γ but to a large part dependent on caspase-1 and IL-1 bioactivity derived from monocytes. In fact, IL-1β as a single stimulus induced IL-22 but not IL-17. Neutrophils display antibacterial activity against B. burgdorferi, particularly when opsonized by antibodies. Since neutrophilic inflammation, indicative of IL-17 bioactivity, is scarcely observed in Erythema migrans, a manifestation of skin inflammation after infection, protective and antibacterial properties of IL-22 may close this gap and serve essential functions in the initial phase of spirochete infection.
Author Summary
Lyme borreliosis displays multifaceted clinical manifestations caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato complex. If insufficiently treated, infection may proceed to inflammatory complications of chronic infection. Th17-like cytokines, foremost IL-17 and IL-22, are crucial for host defense against extracellular bacteria. IL-17/IL-22 secretion by human leukocytes exposed to live Borreliae has not been analyzed. Here we report that B. burgdorferi-activated PBMC lack immediate IL-17 expression despite being highly activated and robust T cell-dependent production of IL-22 that to a large part is mediated by monocyte-derived IL-1. Early innate immunity may shape dermal infection, thus likely affecting bacterial dissemination. Specifically, insufficient neutrophil recruitment/function, supposedly due to insufficient early IL-17 production along with a lack of opsonizing antibodies, may favor the spread of B. burgdorferi. Indeed, neutrophilic inflammation, indicative of IL-17 bioactivity, is scarcely observed in Erythema migrans, a manifestation of skin inflammation after infection. Production of IL-22 may fill this gap. Current knowledge on the role of IL-22 in epithelial biology in fact supports the hypothesis that IL-22 may serve as protection, particularly under conditions of inadequate neutrophil-driven host defense as seen early in B. burgdorferi infection.
PMCID: PMC2954834  PMID: 20976193
11.  Imbalance in distribution of functional autologous regulatory T cells in rheumatoid arthritis 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2007;66(9):1151-1156.
Regulatory T cells (Tregs) exert their anti‐inflammatory activity predominantly by cell contact‐dependent mechanisms. A study was undertaken to investigate the regulatory capacity of autologous peripheral blood Tregs in contact with synovial tissue cell cultures, and to evaluate their presence in peripheral blood, synovial tissue and synovial fluid of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
44 patients with RA and 5 with osteoarthritis were included in the study. The frequency of interferon (IFN)γ‐secreting cells was quantified in synovial tissue cell cultures, CD3‐depleted synovial tissue cell cultures, synovial tissue cultures co‐cultured with autologous CD4+ and with CD4+CD25+ peripheral blood T cells by ELISPOT. Total CD3+, Th1 polarised and Tregs were quantified by real‐time PCR for CD3ε, T‐bet and FoxP3 mRNA, and by immunohistochemistry for FoxP3 protein.
RA synovial tissue cell cultures exhibited spontaneous expression of IFNγ which was abrogated by depletion of CD3+ T cells and specifically reduced by co‐culture with autologous peripheral blood Treg. The presence of Treg in RA synovitis was indicated by FoxP3 mRNA expression and confirmed by immunohistochemistry. The amount of FoxP3 transcripts, however, was lower in the synovial membrane than in peripheral blood or synovial fluid. The T‐bet/FoxP3 ratio correlated with both a higher grade of synovial tissue lymphocyte infiltration and higher disease activity.
This study has shown, for the first time in human RA, the efficacy of autologous Tregs in reducing the inflammatory activity of synovial tissue cell cultures ex vivo, while in the synovium FoxP3+ Tregs of patients with RA are reduced compared with peripheral blood and synovial fluid. This local imbalance of Th1 and Treg may be responsible for repeated rheumatic flares and thus will be of interest as a target for future treatments.
PMCID: PMC1955165  PMID: 17392348

Results 1-11 (11)