In situ detection of HY-specific T cells in acute graft-versus-host disease-affected male skin after sex-mismatched stem cell transplantation

Biol Blood Marrow Transplant. 2012 Mar;18(3):381-7. doi: 10.1016/j.bbmt.2011.10.038. Epub 2011 Nov 4.


HY-specific T cells are presumed to play a role in acute graft-versus-host disease (aGVHD) after female-to-male stem cell transplantation (SCT). However, infiltrates of these T cells in aGVHD-affected tissues have not yet been reported. We evaluated the application of HLA-A2/HY dextramers for the in situ detection of HY-specific T cells in cryopreserved skin biopsy specimens. We applied the HLA-A2/HY dextramers on cryopreserved skin biopsy specimens from seven male HLA-A2(+) pediatric patients who underwent stem cell transplantation with confirmed aGVHD involving the skin. The dextramers demonstrated the presence of HY-specific T cells. In skin biopsy specimens of three male recipients of female grafts, 68% to 78% of all skin-infiltrating CD8(+) T cells were HY-specific, whereas these cells were absent in biopsy specimens collected from sex-matched patient-donor pairs. Although this study involved a small and heterogeneous patient group, our results strongly support the hypothesis that HY-specific T cells are actively involved in the pathophysiology of aGVHD after sex-mismatched stem cell transplantation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cryopreservation
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Graft vs Host Disease / immunology*
  • Graft vs Host Disease / pathology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Skin / immunology*
  • Skin / pathology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / pathology