The bone marrow functions not only as the primary B-lymphocyte-producing organ but also as a secondary lymphoid organ for CD4 and CD8 cell responses and a site of preferential homing and persistence for memory T cells. Bone marrow T (BM-T) cells are distinguished from peripheral blood T cells by surface phenotype, cytokine secretion profile, and immune functions. In this study, we evaluated the alloreactive potential of donor lymphocyte infusion (DLI) using BM-T cells in mixed chimerism compared to that using spleen T (SP-T) cells.
Cells were prepared using established procedures. BM-T cells were obtained as a by-product of T-cell depletion in BM grafting and then cryopreserved for subsequent DLI. We performed DLI using BM-T cells in allogeneic mixed chimera mice on post-BMT day 21.
When the same dose of T cells, 5-10×105 (Thy1.2+), fractionated from BM and spleen were administered into mixed chimeras, the BM-T group showed complete chimeric conversion, with self-limited graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) and no pathological changes. However, the SP-T group showed persistent mixed chimerism, with pathological signs of GVHD in the liver and intestine.
Our results suggest that DLI using BM-T cells, even in small numbers, is more potent at inducing chimeric conversion in mixed chimerism than DLI using SP-T cells. Further study is needed to determine whether cryopreserved BM-T cells are an effective cell source for DLI to consolidate donor-dominant chimerism in clinical practice without concerns about GVHD.