Graft rejection, mixed chimerism, graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), leukemia relapse, and tolerance are interrelated manifestations of immunologic reactivity between donor and host cells that significantly affect survival after allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT). In this report, a mouse model of BMT, in which the donor and host were compatible at the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), was used (1) to examine the interrelationship of pretransplant conditioning and T- cell content of donor BM with regard to lymphoid chimerism and GVHD and (2) to determine how these factors affected graft-versus-leukemia (GVL) reactivity and donor-host-tolerance. AKR (H-2k) host mice were administered optimal or suboptimal total body irradiation (TBI) as pretransplant conditioning followed by administration of BM cells from B10.BR (H-2k) donor mice with or without added spleen cells as a source of T lymphocytes. Transplanted mice were injected with a supralethal dose of AKR leukemia cells 20 and 45 days post-BMT to assess GVL reactivity in vivo. The pretransplant conditioning of the host and T- cell content of the donor marrow affected the extent of donor T-cell chimerism and the severity of GVH disease. GVL reactivity was dependent on transplantation of mature donor T cells and occurred only in complete chimeras. Transplantation of T-cell-deficient BM resulted in the persistence of host T cells, ie, incomplete donor T-cell chimerism, even when lethal TBI was used. Mixed chimerism was associated with a lack of GVL reactivity, despite the fact that similar numbers of donor T cells were present in the spleens of mixed and complete chimeras. In this model, moderate numbers of donor T cells facilitated complete donor T-cell engraftment, caused only mild GVHD, and provided a significant GVL effect without preventing the subsequent development of tolerance after conditioning with suboptimal TBI. In contrast, severe, often lethal, GVHD developed when the dose of TBI was increased, whereas tolerance and no GVH/GVL reactivity developed when the T-cell content of the marrow was decreased.

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