Prevention of graft-versus-host disease by selective depletion of CD6-positive T lymphocytes from donor bone marrow

Soiffer et al., 1992. J Clin Oncol 10(7): 1191-1200.

BACKGROUND: Acute and chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) continues to be the major causes of morbidity and mortality after allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT). In this study, we have evaluated the clinical effects of selective in vitro T-cell depletion of donor allogeneic bone marrow by using a single monoclonal antibody ([MoAb] anti-T12, CD6) and rabbit complement. This antibody recognizes mature T cells, but not other cellular elements such as natural-killer (NK) cells, B cells, and myeloid precursors. PATIENTS AND METHODS: From August 1983 to April 1991, 112 consecutive adult patients with hematologic malignancies underwent BMT with bone marrow from HLA-identical sibling donors. Marrow was harvested and depleted of mature T lymphocytes ex vivo by the use of three rounds of incubation with an anti-T12 antibody and rabbit complement. The preparative regimen consisted of cyclophosphamide and fractionated total body irradiation (TBI) in 108 patients. No patients received prophylactic immune suppression post-BMT. Purgation by anti-T12 was used as the only method for the prevention of GVHD. RESULTS: Twenty patients (18%) developed acute GVHD (grade 2 to 4); only eight patients developed chronic GVHD. The incidence of GVHD did not increase significantly with age. Only three of 112 patients (2.7%) exhibited acute graft failure. One patient developed late graft failure that was associated with cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection. Within the subset of 50 patients who had not previously undergone unsuccessful conventional therapy (acute leukemia in first remission or chronic myelogenous leukemia [CML] in stable phase), we estimated by the Kaplan-Meier method that the probability of disease-free survival was 50% at 3 years post-BMT, with a median follow-up of 44 months. The treatment-related mortality rate in this group was only 14% and was independent of patient age. CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that selective in vitro T-cell depletion with an anti-T12 monoclonal antibody effectively reduces the incidence of both acute and chronic GVHD after allogeneic BMT without compromising engraftment. Moreover, depletion of CD6-positive cells from donor marrow obviates the need to administer immune suppressive medications to the majority of patients. This approach reduces the morbidity and mortality of allogeneic BMT and permits the BMT of older patients.