T-cell recovery following myeloablative preparatory regimens and cord blood transplantation in adult patients generally occurs between 1 and 3 years following allogeneic bone marrow transplantation. T-cell reconstitution may involve thymic education of donor-derived precursors or peripheral expansion of mature T-cells transferred in the graft. We measured quantitative and qualitative immunologic reconstitution, T-cell receptor spectratyping, and T-cell receptor excision circle (TREC) levels in adult recipients of umbilical cord blood transplants following a novel non-myeloablative regimen. These results were compared to previously published results of similar patients receiving a myeloablative regimen and cord blood stem cells. With small numbers of patients treated so far, T-cells (CD3+) reached normal levels in adults 6 to 12 months following nonmyeloablative transplantation compared with 24 months in adults receiving a myeloablative regimen. At 12 months after transplantation, the numbers of phenotypically naïve (CD45RA+) T-cells were higher in those receiving the nonmyeloablative regimen. The T-cell repertoire in cord blood recipients treated with a nonmyeloablative regimen was markedly more diverse and robust compared with the repertoire in those receiving the myeloablative regimen at similar time points. TRECs (which are generated within the thymus and identify new thymic emigrants and those that have not divided) were detected 12 months after transplantation in the nonmyeloablative recipients, whereas TRECs were not detected in adults until 18 to 24 months in those receiving myeloablative regimens. Thus, in adults receiving a nonmyeloablative preparatory regimen, the quantitative and qualitative recovery of T-cells occurs through rapid peripheral expansion. The ability of patients receiving a nonmyeloablative regimen to recover within a few months suggests that the peripheral niches in which T-cells can proliferate are preserved in these patients compared to those receiving ablative regimens. Moreover, the presence of TREC-positive cells within 1 year suggests that thymic recovery is likewise accelerated in non-myeloablative compared to myeloablative regimens.
Chao, N. J., Liu, C. X., Rooney, B., Chen, B. J., Long, G. D., Vredenburgh, J. J., … Rizzieri, D. A. (2002). Nonmyeloablative regimen preserves “Niches” allowing for peripheral expansion of donor T-cells. Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation, 8(5), 249–256. https://doi.org/10.1053/bbmt.2002.v8.pm12064361