Blood 2009 Jan 2;113(3):733-43. Epub 2008 Oct 2.
Department of Microbiology/Immunology, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, FL 33101, USA.
Reconstitution of the recipient lymphoid compartment following hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) is typically delayed. The present studies investigated the residual host CD4(+)CD25(+)Foxp3(+) (Treg) compartment after several conditioning regimens, including T cell-depleted and T cell-replete HCT and observed (1) a small number of recipient Treg cells survived aggressive conditioning; (2) the surviving, that is, residual Tregs underwent marked expansion; and (3) recipient CD4(+)FoxP3(+) cells composed the majority of the Treg compartment for several months post-syngeneic HCT. Notably, residual Tregs also dominated the compartment post-HCT with T cell-depleted (TCD) major histocompatibility complex-matched allogeneic bone marrow but not following T cell-replete transplantations. The residual Treg cell compartment was functionally competent as assessed by in vitro lymphoid suppression and in vivo autoimmune disease transfer assay. These observations support the notion that functional host Tregs initially occupy a niche in lymphopenic transplantation recipients, undergo significant expansion, and contribute to the compartment for an extended period before donor-derived CD4(+)FoxP3(+) T cells eventually compose the majority of the compartment. In total, the findings suggest that the presence of host Tregs may be important to consider regarding elicitation of immune (eg, antitumor, vaccine) responses in recipients during the early post-transplant period involving autologous and certain allogeneic HCT regimens.