B-chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL) is characterized by the clonal accumulation of CD5+ B cells. It has been suggested that CLL cells may be regulated by inhibitory and growth-promoting signals exerted by autologous T cells. We have recently described a model for human B-CLL in which peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) are transplanted into the peritoneal cavity of lethally irradiated mice radioprotected with bone marrow from mice with severe combined immunedeficiency. In this model, adoptive transfer of low- stage PBMCs leads to marked engraftment of T cells or combined T and CLL cell engraftment, whereas infusion of high-stage PBMCs leads to dominance of CLL cells with a miniscule level of T-cell engraftment. This mutual exclusive pattern of engraftment indicated that T cells might control the expansion of tumor cells in the peritoneum of recipient BALB/c mice. In the present study, we further investigated this question and we demonstrate that in vivo T-cell depletion, using OKT3 antibody, markedly enhances the engraftment of B-CLL cells from patients with early-stage disease. In mice receiving PBMCs from 11 donors with advanced-stage disease, the results were more heterogeneous. In five patients the results were similar to those observed in early stage, whereas in two cases no CLL cell engraftment was found in the absence of T cells. The addition of purified T cells to PBMCs led to a substantial decrease of CLL engraftment in three advanced-stage cases. These results strengthen the working hypothesis that autologous T cells can actively suppress the expansion of the pathological cells in human→mouse radiation chimera. This effect is prominent in early-stage disease, whereas in advanced stage suppressive and/or stimulatory effects may occur in different patients. The interaction of T cells with tumor cells and the potential of autologous T cell/immune-therapy in CLL can be further explored in this model.
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|Published - 1 Dec 1999