Abstract

Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is associated with a varying period of immunoincompetence that particularly affects he T cell lineage resulting in significant morbidity and mortality from opportunistic infections. Recent studies have shown that murine T cells and their precursors can be generated from hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) in vitro using a OP9-DL1 coculture system consisting of OP9 bone marrow stromal cells expressing the Notch 1 ligand Delta-like 1 and growth factors (interleukin 7 and fms-like tyrosine kinase-3 ligand). In this study we determined the effects of adoptively transferred in vitro generated T cell precursors on T cell reconstitution after allogeneic HSCT. We selected HSC (Lin- Sca-1hi c-kithi) from bone marrow (BM) of C57BL/6 mice and cultured these cells on a monolayer of OP9-DL1 cells in the presence of growth factors. These HSC expanded 2,000–5,000-fold within 3–4 weeks and consisted of >95% CD4-CD8-double negative (DN) T cell precursors after 16–28 days of culture. We infused these cells (8x106) with T cell depleted (TCD) BM (5x106) or purified HSC into allogeneic recipients using minor antigen mismatched and MHC class I/II mismatched transplant models. Control mice received TCD BM or purified HSC only. Progeny of OP9-DL1 derived T cell precursors were found in thymus and spleen increasing thymic cellularity and significantly improving thymic and splenic donor T cell chimerism. This effect was even more pronounced when purified HSC instead of whole BM were used as allograft. T cell receptor repertoire and proliferative response to foreign antigen (determined by third party MLR) of in vivo differentiated OP9-DL1 derived mature T cells were intact. Administration of in vitro generated T cell precursors did not induce graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) but mediated significant graft-versus-tumor (GVT) activity (determined by in vivo bioluminescence imaging) resulting in a subsequent significant survival benefit. This advantage was associated with better cytokine responses (IL-2, INF-g, TNF-a) in T cells originating from OP9-DL1 derived T cell precursors compared to BM donor derived T cells. We conclude that the adoptive transfer of OP9-DL1 derived T cell precursors significantly enhances post-transplant T cell reconstitution and GVT activity in the absence GVHD.

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