Suicide gene therapy for graft-versus-host disease

Immunotherapy. 2010 Jul;2(4):521-37. doi: 10.2217/imt.10.19.


In allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, donor-derived T cells are key players for early immune reconstitution and efficient engraftment, as well as the graft-versus-leukemia and graft-versus-infection effects. However, a severe and quite common life-threatening complication is the development of graft-versus-host disease, during which the alloreactive donor T cells attack the host. Controlling graft-versus-host disease while preserving the benefits of graft-versus-leukemia still constitutes a challenge. A promising approach for the control of graft-versus-host disease is suicide gene therapy, which involves the ex vivo genetic modification of donor T cells with a suicide gene that allows for the selective elimination of the cells in vivo if graft-versus-host disease occurs. This article presents an overview of such approaches with special reference to lessons learned from previous clinical experiences, as well as a discussion of critical factors in suicide gene therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Genes, Transgenic, Suicide*
  • Genetic Therapy*
  • Graft vs Host Disease / genetics
  • Graft vs Host Disease / therapy*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation
  • Humans
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology