Rapidly expanded partially HLA DRB1-matched fungus-specific T cells mediate in vitro and in vivo antifungal activity

Blood Adv. 2020 Jul 28;4(14):3443-3456. doi: 10.1182/bloodadvances.2020001565.


Invasive fungal infections are a major cause of disease and death in immunocompromised hosts, including patients undergoing allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT). Recovery of adaptive immunity after HSCT correlates strongly with recovery from fungal infection. Using initial selection of lymphocytes expressing the activation marker CD137 after fungal stimulation, we rapidly expanded a population of mainly CD4+ T cells with potent antifungal characteristics, including production of tumor necrosis factor α, interferon γ, interleukin-17, and granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor. Cells were manufactured using a fully good manufacturing practice-compliant process. In vitro, the T cells responded to fungal antigens presented on fully and partially HLA-DRB1 antigen-matched presenting cells, including when the single common DRB1 antigen was allelically mismatched. Administration of antifungal T cells lead to reduction in the severity of pulmonary and cerebral infection in an experimental mouse model of Aspergillus. These data support the establishment of a bank of cryopreserved fungus-specific T cells using normal donors with common HLA DRB1 molecules and testing of partially HLA-matched third-party donor fungus-specific T cells as a potential therapeutic in patients with invasive fungal infection after HSCT.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antifungal Agents* / pharmacology
  • Antifungal Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells
  • Fungi
  • HLA-DRB1 Chains
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Humans
  • Mice


  • Antifungal Agents
  • HLA-DRB1 Chains