A Radio-Resistant Perforin-Expressing Lymphoid Population Controls Allogeneic T Cell Engraftment, Activation, and Onset of Graft-versus-Host Disease in Mice

Joanne E Davis, Michael Harvey, Nicholas A Gherardin, Rachel Koldej, Nicholas D Huntington, Paul Neeson, Joseph A. Trapani, David S Ritchie

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Immunosuppressive pretransplantation conditioning is essential for donor cell engraftment in allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT). The role of residual postconditioning recipient immunity in determining engraftment is poorly understood. We examined the role of recipient perforin in the kinetics of donor cell engraftment. MHC-mismatched BMT mouse models demonstrated that both the rate and proportion of donor lymphoid cell engraftment and expansion of effector memory donor T cells in both spleen and BM weresignificantly increased within 5 to 7 days post-BMT in perforin-deficient (pfn-/-) recipients, compared with wild-type. In wild-type recipients, depletion of natural killer (NK) cells before BMT enhanced donor lymphoid cell engraftment to that seen in pfn-/- recipients. This demonstrated that a perforin-dependent, NK-mediated, host-versus-graft (HVG) effect limits the rate of donor engraftment and T cell activation. Radiation-resistant natural killer T (NKT) cells survived in the BM of lethally irradiated mice and may drive NK cell activation, resulting in the HVG effect. Furthermore, reduced pretransplant irradiation doses in pfn-/- recipients permitted long-term donor lymphoid cell engraftment. These findings suggest that suppression of perforin activity or selective depletion of recipient NK cells before BMT could be used to improve donor stem cell engraftment, in turn allowing for the reduction of pretransplant conditioning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-249
Number of pages8
JournalBiology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Bone marrow transplantation
  • Donor lymphoid cell
  • Engraftment
  • Graft-versus-host disease
  • Natural killer cells
  • Perforin

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