Rapid immune reconstitution after a reduced-intensity conditioning regimen and a CD3-depleted haploidentical stem cell graft for paediatric refractory haematological malignancies


Gregory A Hale MD, Division of Bone Marrow Transplantation, St Jude Children's Research Hospital, Mail Stop 260, 332 N Lauderdale St, Memphis, TN 38105-2794, USA. E-mail: gregory.hale@stjude.org


The main obstacles to successful haploidentical haematopoietic stem cell transplantation from a mismatched family member donor are delayed immune reconstitution, vulnerability to infections and severe graft-versus-host disease (GvHD). We designed a reduced-intensity conditioning regimen that excluded total body irradiation and anti-thymocyte globulin in order to expedite immune reconstitution after a CD3-depleted haploidentical stem cell transplant. This protocol was used to treat 22 paediatric patients with refractory haematological malignancies. After transplantation, 91% of the patients achieved full donor chimaerism. They also showed rapid recovery of CD3+ T-cells, T-cell receptor (TCR) excision circle counts, TCRβ repertoire diversity and natural killer (NK)-cells during the first 4 months post-transplantation, compared with those results from a group of patients treated with a myeloablative conditioning regimen. The incidence and extent of viremia were limited and no lethal infection was seen. Only 9% of patients had grade 3 acute GvHD, while 27% patients had grade 1 and another 27% had grade 2 acute GvHD. This well-tolerated regimen appears to accelerate immune recovery and shorten the duration of early post-transplant immunodeficiency, thereby reducing susceptibility to viral infections. Rapid T-cell reconstitution, retention of NK-cells in the graft and induction of low grade GvHD may also enhance the potential anti-cancer immune effect.