Donor T cells activated by recipient alloantigens cause graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) after hematopoietic cell transplantation. Activated T cells express CD25, among other components of the interleukin-2 receptor. We conducted a phase I/II study to determine whether administration of CD25-specific antibody conjugated to ricin toxin A could reduce the risk of grade III or IV GVHD after marrow transplantation from HLA-matched unrelated donors. All patients received methotrexate and cyclosporine after the transplantation. The immunotoxin was given to 36 patients for 4 consecutive days beginning approximately 36 hours after the marrow infusion was completed. Fourteen (40%) of the 35 patients who could be evaluated developed grade III or IV GVHD. In a contemporaneous population of 121 patients who received marrow from HLA-matched unrelated donors and were given methotrexate and cyclosporine without the immunotoxin, the incidence of grades III and IV GVHD was 24%. Cyclosporine blocked the induction of CD25 expression on alloactivated T cells in vitro but had no detectable effect on CD25 expression by T-regulatory cells. Taken together, these results are consistent with the hypothesis that cyclosporine protected alloactivated donor T cells from the effects of the immunotoxin, whereas the CD25+ T-regulatory cells remained susceptible, causing an unexpected exacerbation of acute GVHD.
- Graft-versus-host disease
- Hematopoietic cell transplantation
- T-regulatory cells
ASJC Scopus subject areas