Escape from suppression: Tumor-specific effector cells outcompete regulatory T cells following stem-cell transplantation

Paria Mirmonsef, Gladys Tan, Gang Zhou, Tricia Morino, Kimberly Noonan, Ivan Borrello, Hyam I. Levitsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Immune reconstitution of autologous hematopoietic stem-cell transplant recipients with the progeny of mature T cells in the graft leads to profound changes in the emerging functional T-cell repertoire. In the steady state, the host is frequently tolerant to tumor antigens, reflecting dominant suppression of naive and effector T cells by regulatory T cells (Tregs). We examined the relative frequency and function of these 3 components within the tumor-specific T-cell compartment during immune reconstitution. Grafts from tumor-bearing donors exerted a significant antitumor effect in irradiated, syngeneic tumor-bearing recipients. This was associated with dramatic clonal expansion and interferon-γ (IFNγ) production by previously tolerant tumor-specific T cells. While donor-derived Tregs expanded in recipients, they did not inhibit the antigen-driven expansion of effector T cells in the early posttransplantation period. Indeed, the repopulation of tumorspecific effector T cells significantly exceeded that of Tregs, the expansion of which was limited by IL-2 availability. Although the intrinsic suppressive capacity of Tregs remained intact, their diminished frequency was insufficient to suppress effector cell function. These findings provide an explanation for the reversal of tolerance leading to tumor rejection in transplant recipients and likely contribute to the efficacy of adoptive T-cell therapies in lymphopenic hosts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2112-2121
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Immunology
  • Hematology
  • Cell Biology


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