Bone marrow transplantation is usually preceded by intensive chemotherapy and radiation therapy designed to completely eliminate recipient immune-competent cells that might reject the donor bone marrow. We show that seven of 14 bone marrow transplant recipients who received intensive conditioning retained circulating T lymphocytes that proliferate after incubation with interleukin 2 and phytohemagglutinin and function as effector cells in an in vitro model of graft rejection. These T cells may mediate graft rejection.

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