Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) is initiated by adoptively transferred donor T cells that recognize host alloantigens. Whereas the absence of donor T-cell proliferation to host alloantigens in a mixed-leukocyte reaction does not predict freedom from GVHD, the frequency of alloreactive precursor helper T lymphocytes (pHTL) is predictive. Complete blockade of 87 family-mediated costimulation, but not of major histocompatibility complex recognition or adhesion, induces host alloantigenic-specific energy by reducing cytokine production below threshold levels necessary for common gamma chain signaling. The associated reduction of alloreactive pHTL frequency below that predictive for GVHD, without depletion of either nonallospecific T cells or hematopoietic progenitors, has led us to embark upon human clinical trials of haplomismatched allogeneic bone marrow transplantation.

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