Recovery of Valpha24+ NKT cells after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation

Bone Marrow Transplant. 2004 Oct;34(7):595-602. doi: 10.1038/sj.bmt.1704582.


Human Valpha24+ natural killer T (NKT) cells have an invariant T-cell receptor-alpha chain and are activated in a CD1d-restricted manner. Valpha24+ NKT cells are thought to regulate immune responses and to play important roles in the induction of allograft tolerance. In this report, we analyzed the recovery of Valpha24+ NKT cells after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and its correlation with graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). Patients who received a dose-reduced conditioning regimen, antithymocyte globulin- or CAMPATH-1H-containing conditioning regimen were excluded. NKT cells were reconstituted within 1 month after transplantation in peripheral blood stem cell transplantation recipients, while their numbers remained low for more than 1 year in bone marrow transplantation (BMT) recipients. The number of Valpha24+ NKT cells in BMT recipients with acute GVHD was lower than that in patients without acute GVHD, and both the CD4+ and CD4- Valpha24+ NKT subsets were significantly reduced. With regard to chronic GVHD, BMT recipients with extensive GVHD had significantly fewer Valpha24+ NKT cells than other patients. Furthermore, the number of CD4+ Valpha24+ NKT cells was also significantly reduced in patients with chronic extensive GVHD. Our results raise the possibility that the number of Valpha24+ NKT cells could be related to the development of GVHD.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bone Marrow Transplantation
  • Female
  • Graft vs Host Disease / immunology*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Humans
  • Immune System / immunology
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta / metabolism*
  • Recovery of Function / immunology
  • Tissue Donors


  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta