Cell therapy: achievements and perspectives

C Bordignon, C Carlo-Stella, M P Colombo, A De Vincentiis, L Lanata, R M Lemoli, F Locatelli, A Olivieri, D Rondelli, P Zanon, S Tura
Haematologica 1999, 84 (12): 1110-49

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Cell therapy can be considered as a strategy aimed at replacing, repairing, or enhancing the biological function of a damaged tissue or system by means of autologous or allogeneic cells. There have been major advances in this field in the last few years. This has prompted the Working Group on Hematopoietic Cells to examine the current utilization of this therapy in clinical hematology.

EVIDENCE AND INFORMATION SOURCES: The method employed for preparing this review was that of informal consensus development. Members of the Working Group met three times, and the participants at these meetings examined a list of problems previously prepared by the chairman. They discussed the single points in order to reach an agreement on different opinions and eventually approved the final manuscript. Some of the authors of the present review have been working in the field of cell therapy and have contributed original papers in peer-reviewed journals. In addition, the material examined in the present review includes articles and abstracts published in journals covered by the Science Citation Index and Medline.

STATE OF THE ART: Lymphokine-activated killer (LAK) and tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) have been used since the '70s mainly in end-stage patients with solid tumors, but the clinical benefits of these treatments has not been clearly documented. TIL are more specific and potent cytotoxic effectors than LAK, but only in few patients (mainly in those with solid tumors such as melanoma and glioblastoma) can their clinical use be considered potentially useful. Adoptive immunotherapy with donor lymphocyte infusions has proved to be effective, particularly in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia, in restoring a state of hematologic remission after leukemia relapse occurring following an allograft. The infusion of donor T-cells can also have a role in the treatment of patients with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-induced post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorders. However, in this regard, generation and infusion of donor-derived, virus specific T-cell lines or clones represents a more sophisticated and safer approach for treatment of viral complications occurring in immunocompromised patients. Whereas too few clinical trials have been performed so far to draw any firm conclusion, based on animal studies dendritic cell-based immunotherapy holds promises of exerting an effective anti-tumor activity. Despite leukemic cells not being immunogenic, induction on their surface of co-stimulatory molecules or generation of leukemic dendritic cells may induce antileukemic cytotoxic T-cell responses. Tumor cells express a variety of antigens and can be genetically manipulated to become immunogenic. The main in vitro and in vivo functional characteristics of marrow mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) with particular emphasis on their hematopoietic regulatory role are reviewed. In addition, prerequisites for clinical applications using culture-expanded mesenchymal cells are discussed

PERSPECTIVES: The opportuneness of using LAK cells or activated natural killer (NK) cells in hematologic patients with low tumor burden (e.g. after stem cell transplantation) should be further explored. Moreover the role of new cytokines in enhancing the antineoplastic activity of NK cells and the infusion of selected NK in alternative to CTL for graft versus leukemia (GVL) disease (avoiding graft versus host disease (GvHD) seems very promising. Separation of GVL from GvHD through generation and infusion of leukemia-specific T-cell clones or lines is one of the most intriguing and promising fields of investigations for the future. Likewise, strategies devised to improve immune-reconstitution and restore specific anti-infectious functions through either induction of unresponsiveness to recipient alloantigens or removal of alloreactive donor T-cells might increase the applicability and success of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. (ABSTRACT TRUNCATED)

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