Combining CD34+ stem cell selection with prophylactic pathogen and leukemia directed T-cell immunotherapy to simultaneously reduce graft versus host disease, infection, and leukemia recurrence after allogeneic stem cell transplant

Am J Hematol. 2023 Jan;98(1):159-165. doi: 10.1002/ajh.26594. Epub 2022 May 20.


We designed a trial to simultaneously address the problems of graft versus host disease (GVHD), infection, and recurrence of malignancy after allogeneic stem cell transplantation. CD34+ stem cell isolation was used to minimize the development of acute and chronic GVHD. Two prophylactic infusions, one combining donor-derived cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus, and Aspergillus fumigatus specific T-cells and the other comprising donor-derived CD19 directed chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) bearing T-cells, were given 21-28 days after transplant. Two patients were transplanted for acute lymphoblastic leukemia from HLA identical siblings using standard doses of cyclophosphamide and total body irradiation without antilymphocyte globulin. Patients received no post-transplant immune suppression and were given no pre-CAR T-cell lymphodepletion. Neutrophil and platelet engraftment was prompt. Following adoptive T-cell infusions, there was rapid appearance of antigen-experienced CD8+ and to a lesser extent CD4+ T-cells. Tetramer-positive T-cells targeting CMV and EBV appeared rapidly after T-cell infusion and persisted for at least 1 year. CAR T-cell expansion occurred and persisted for up to 3 months. T-cell receptor tracking confirmed the presence of product-derived T-cell clones in blood targeting all three pathogens. Both patients are alive over 3 years post-transplant without evidence of GVHD or disease recurrence. Combining robust donor T-cell depletion with directed T-cell adoptive immunotherapy targeting infectious and malignant antigens permits independent modulation of GVHD, infection, and disease recurrence. The combination may separate GVHD from the graft versus tumor effect, accelerate immune reconstitution, and improve transplant tolerability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections* / complications
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections* / therapy
  • Graft vs Host Disease* / etiology
  • Graft vs Host Disease* / prevention & control
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma* / therapy
  • Stem Cell Transplantation
  • T-Lymphocytes
  • Transplantation, Homologous
  • Treatment Outcome

Associated data

  • ANZCTR/ACTRN12618001090202