Pre-differentiated human committed T-lymphoid progenitors promote peripheral T-cell re-constitution after stem cell transplantation in immunodeficient mice



T-cell re-constitution after allogeneic stem cell transplantation (alloSCT) is often dampened by the slow differentiation of human peripheral blood CD34+ (huCD34+) hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) into mature T cells. This process may be accelerated by the co-transfer of in vitro-pre-differentiated committed T/NK-lymphoid progenitors (CTLPs). Here, we analysed the developmental potential of huCD34+ HSCs compared with CTLPs from a third-party donor in a murine NOD-scid IL2Rγnull model of humanised chimeric haematopoiesis. CTLPs (CD34+linCD45RA+CD7+) could be generated in vitro within 10 days upon co-culture of huCD34+ or cord blood CD34+ (CB-CD34) HSCs on murine OP9/N-DLL-1 stroma cells but not in a novel 3-D cell-culture matrix with DLL-1low human stroma cells. In both in vitro systems, huCD34+ and CB-CD34+ HSCs did not give rise to mature T cells. Upon transfer into 6-wk-old immune-deficient mice, CTLPs alone did not engraft. However, transplantation of CTLPs together with huCD34+ HSCs resulted in rapid T-cell engraftment in spleen, bone marrow and thymus at day 28. Strikingly, at this early time point mature T cells originated exclusively from CTLPs, whereas descendants of huCD34+ HSCs still expressed a T-cell-precursor phenotype (CD7+CD5+CD1a+/−). This strategy to enhance early T-cell re-constitution with ex vivo-pre-differentiated T-lymphoid progenitors could bridge the gap until full T-cell recovery in severely immunocompromised patients after allogeneic stem cell transplantation.