HLA-identical bone marrow transplantation (BMT) is associated with both graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) and graft-versus-leukemia (GVL) reactivity. Different T-cell subsets from the bone marrow (BM) graft may be responsible for GVHD and GVL reactivity after BMT. In the etiology of GVHD, not only CD8+ but also CD4+ donor T lymphocytes may play an important role. Here we report a patient with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) who was transplanted with the BM from his HLA-genotypically identical sister. After BMT there was complete engraftment, but the patient died because of acute GVHD grade III-IV in complete remission. Cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) lines were generated after BMT using the irradiated leukemic cells from the patient as stimulator cells and the donor-originated peripheral blood mononuclear cells, procured from the patient after BMT, as responder cells. The generated CTL lines showed specific lysis of the recipient lymphocytes and leukemic cells in a 51Cr release assay. Two types of CTL clones could be established from these CTL lines, both phenotypically CD4+. Clone type I showed male-specific HLA-DQ5-restricted lysis of the recipient lymphocytes, but not of the circulating relatively mature leukemic cells from the patient. This may be explained by the low HLA-DQ5 expression of the more mature CML cells. Clone type II showed HLA-DR2-restricted minor histocompatibility antigen-specific lysis of the recipient lymphocytes and leukemic cells. Both types of CTL clones showed antigen-specific cell-mediated growth inhibition of the recipient clonogenic leukemic precursor cells. These CD4+ CTL clones produced several activating cytokines including tumor necrosis factor alpha, interferon gamma, granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), and macrophage CSF. Our results illustrate that these CD4+ CTL clones may have induced GVHD directly by cytolysis and indirectly by activating cytokines. Because both types of CTL clones recognized the recipient leukemic progenitor cells, they may also contribute to GVL reactivity after BMT.

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