Adoptive immunotherapy in chimeras with donor lymphocytes

Hans Jochem Kolb, Christoph Schmid, Xiao Chen, Anja Woiciechowski, Marie Roskrow, Martin Weber, Wolfgang Guenther, Georg Ledderose, Michael Schleuning

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Allogeneic stem cell transplantation has a well-defined indication in the treatment of hematological malignancies. The beneficial immune effect of allogeneic marrow transplantation has long been known, but only recently have methods been developed to separate the graft-versus-leukemia (GVL) effect from graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). Animal experiments have shown that lymphocytes from the marrow donor can be transfused without causing severe GVHD if stable chimerism and tolerance is established. First clinical studies have been preformed in patients with recurrent chronic myelogenous leukemia. In these patients complete molecular remissions were induced that persist without further maintenance treatment. These results have been confirmed in larger multicenter studies in Europe and the USA. The best results were obtained in chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML); repeated successes have been reported in relapsing acute myeloid leukemia (AML), myelodysplastic syndromes and multiple myeloma (MMY), and rare responses were reported for acute lymphoid leukemia. Contrary to animal experiments GVHD has been observed in human patients although to a lesser extent than expected in transplants not given immunosuppression. Secondly myelosuppression has been observed in patients treated with relapsing CML. In CML the incidence of GVHD could be reduced by depleting CD8+ T cells from the donor lymphocyte concentrate. Alternatively only small numbers of T lymphocytes can be transfused and in the case of failing responses, the numbers of donor lymphocytes may be increased. Results in recurrent AML have been improved by the use of low-dose cytosine arabinoside, granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor and granulocyte colony-stimulating factor mobilized blood cells as compared to lymphocytes only. In MMY the response rate is higher than in AML, but the remissions are of limited duration in most patients. Several protocols have been designed to include preemptive donor lymphocyte transfusion in patients with a high relapse risk after transplantation. Problems remain to avoid chronic GVHD and to circumvent the immune escape mechanisms of leukemia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-120
Number of pages11
JournalActa Haematologica
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Adoptive immunotherapy
  • Chimerism
  • Donor lymphocyte transfusion
  • Stem cell transplantation
  • Transplantation tolerance


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