Clinical studies indicated an enhanced antileukemic effect of allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT), as compared with autologous BMT. After allogeneic HLA-identical BMT, donor-derived cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) directed at minor histocompatibility (mH) antigens on the recipients, tissues can be shown. To evaluate the antileukemic reactivity of mH antigen-specific CTLs, we analyzed the expression of mH antigens on circulating lymphocytic and myeloid leukemic cells. We show that the defined mH specificities HA-1 through HA-5 and H-Y are present on leukemic cells, indicating that mH antigen- specific CTLs are capable of HLA class I-restricted antigen-specific lysis of leukemic cells. Compared with interleukin-2-stimulated normal lymphocytes, leukemic cells of lymphocytic origin are less susceptible to T-cell-mediated cytotoxicity by the HA-2 mH antigen-specific CTL and the anti-HLA-A2 CTL clone. A possible explanation for this phenomenon is impaired expression of the LFA-1 adhesion molecule. Our study suggests that mH antigen-specific HLA class I-restricted CD8+ CTLs may be involved in the graft-versus-leukemia reactivity after allogeneic BMT.

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