Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality following bone marrow transplantation. The in vitro removal of the GVHD-causing T-lymphocytes from donor marrow is one approach which could control this complication. Treatment of the donor bone marrow with lectins and erythrocyte-forming rosette depletion, anti-T-cell antisera or monoclonal antibodies are methods currently being tested to accomplish this.

CT-2 is an immunoglobulin monoclonal antibody specific for the T-cell erythrocyte-forming rosette receptor. Bone marrow from 23 consecutive donors was treated in vitro with CT-2 and complement, prior to infusion, as a potential means of controlling GVHD. Surface marker analysis using erythrocyte-forming rosetting, and OKT-3 and OKT-11 monoclonal antibodies on paired samples of treated and untreated marrow demonstrated a mean depletion to 1% of the original number of T-cells. Proliferative responses to alloantigens and mitogens as well as cytotoxic and natural killer cell function were tested and found to be markedly reduced. Despite these effects on T-lymphocytes, viable hematopoietic stem cell colonies were retained.

Clinical results following the in vitro T-lymphocyte depletion of donor bone marrow for the 8 histocompatible and 15 nonhistocompatible bone marrow transplantation are reported. Prompt engraftment with minimal GVHD, despite no posttransplant GVHD prophylaxis, was seen in seven of the matched patients. In the nonhistocompatible bone marrow transplantation, failure of engraftment occurred in 11 patients. Grades III–IV GVHD were seen in two of the four patients that engrafted despite good T-lymphocyte depletion. No predictive correlation could be found between the in vitro analysis of marrow following CT-2 treatment and clinical outcome.

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This research was supported by Grants CH-237 of the American Cancer Society, RO1-CA32685 of the NIH, the University of Wisconsin Graduate School Research Committee and Department of Pediatrics, The Ryan Corporation, Molecular Medicine, Inc., and Hybridoma Diagnostics, Inc.

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