A phase II trial of partially incompatible bone marrow transplantation for high-risk acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in children: prevention of graft rejection with anti-LFA-1 and anti-CD2 antibodies


Dr Marina Cavazzana-Calvo INSERM U429 and Unité d'Immuno-Hématologie Pédiatrique, Hôpital Necker-Enfants Malades, 149 rue de Sèvres, 75743 Paris Cédex 15, France.


Bone marrow transplantation (BMT) from matched sibling donors has been useful for the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in children with a poor prognosis but is not available to more than two-thirds of patients who do not have a matched allogeneic donor. This study was undertaken to assess one strategy of marrow graft rejection prevention when alternative marrow sources such as HLA-phenoidentical unrelated volunteers and HLA-partially incompatible relatives were used. Results have been compared with two matched groups of children with the same risks factors and disease status who underwent HLA-genoidentical or autologous BMT. The conditioning regimen was the same for the three groups of patients; in the study group anti-LFA-1 and anti-CD2 monoclonal antibodies combined with T-cell depletion of the marrow was added to prevent graft rejection and graft-versus-host disease.  Nineteen patients were included and followed for a median of 25 months (14 months to 3 years). Bone marrow engraftment occurred in 83% of the evaluable patients. Post-transplantation infectious diseases were the most frequent causes of death in the study group, occurring in 31% of patients. No fatal infections occurred in the two control groups. Post-transplantation relapse of leukaemia occurred in 26% of study group's patients, in 58% of autologous BMT control group's patients and in 5% of HLA-genoidentical allogeneic group's patients. The event-free survival was 83% in the HLA-genoidentical control group, and 30% and 24% in the study group and in the autologous control group, respectively.  In conclusion, a high rate of engraftment was achieved by the use of anti-LFA-1 and anti-CD2 antibodies. Occurrence of a long-lasting immunodeficiency, however, led to a high incidence of lethal infections and relapses. Combined approaches are therefore to be investigated accelerating immune reconstitution after transplantations of T-depleted HLA partially incompatible marrow.