Interleukin-7 (IL-7) is a homeostatic cytokine for resting T cells with increasing serum and tissue levels during T cell depletion. In preclinical studies, IL-7 therapy exerts marked stimulating effects on T cell immune reconstitution in mice and primates. First-in-human clinical studies of recombinant human IL-7 (rhIL-7) provided the opportunity to investigate the effects of IL-7 therapy on lymphocytes in vivo. rhIL-7 induced in vivo T cell cycling, bcl-2 up-regulation, and a sustained increase in peripheral blood CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. This T cell expansion caused a significant broadening of circulating T cell receptor (TCR) repertoire diversity independent of the subjects ' age as naive T cells, including recent thymic emigrants (RTEs), expanded preferentially, whereas the proportions of regulatory T (T reg) cells and senescent CD8+ effectors diminished. The resulting composition of the circulating T cell pool more closely resembled that seen earlier in life. This profile, distinctive among cytokines under clinical development, suggests that rhIL-7 therapy could enhance and broaden immune responses, particularly in individuals with limited naive T cells and diminished TCR repertoire diversity, as occurs after physiological (age), pathological (human immunodeficiency virus), or iatrogenic (chemotherapy) lymphocyte depletion.
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