Alemtuzumab depletes dendritic cells more effectively in blood than in skin: a pilot study in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia

Transplantation. 2007 May 15;83(9):1268-72. doi: 10.1097/


The antibody alemtuzumab (anti-CD52) is effective in preventing acute graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (aHSCT). As well as depleting donor T cells, alemtuzumab may also work by targeting host dendritic cells (DC). To determine whether this second mechanism of action is significant, we investigated the effects of intravenous alemtuzumab by comparing skin and blood DC numbers of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, before and after a 4-week course of alemtuzumab treatment. Although skin DC express CD52, the epitope is only weakly detectable and their numbers were not consistently reduced by alemtuzumab. In contrast, circulating blood DC, with stronger CD52 expression, were invariably diminished by alemtuzumab. Because DC depletion in the transplant recipient remains a promising approach for GvHD prophylaxis and therapy, more potent techniques, such as an antibody of different specificity, may be required for effective DC eradication in GvHD target organs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alemtuzumab
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antibodies, Neoplasm / therapeutic use*
  • Antigens, CD / analysis
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / analysis
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Blood Cells / drug effects
  • Blood Cells / immunology
  • Blood Cells / pathology*
  • CD52 Antigen
  • Dendritic Cells / drug effects
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Dendritic Cells / pathology*
  • Glycoproteins / analysis
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / blood
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / drug therapy*
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / immunology
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / pathology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Skin / pathology*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antibodies, Neoplasm
  • Antigens, CD
  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • CD52 Antigen
  • CD52 protein, human
  • Glycoproteins
  • Alemtuzumab