Allogeneic cell therapy with donor peripheral blood cells and recombinant human interleukin-2 to treat leukemia relapse after allogeneic bone marrow transplantation

S Slavin, E Naparstek, A Nagler, A Ackerstein, S Samuel, J Kapelushnik, C Brautbar, R Or
Blood 1996 March 15, 87 (6): 2195-204
Allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT) is the only effective treatment for hematologic malignancies resistant to conventional chemotherapy. Until recently, no cure existed for patients who relapsed post-BMT. We present our long-term observations on remission induction, after relapse post-BMT, by allogeneic cell therapy (allo-CT) and the feasibility of remission induction in allo-CT-resistant patients by activation of antileukemia effector cells with recombinant human interleukin-2 (rhIL-2) in vitro and in vivo. The longest observation of successful allo-CT (event-free survival, greater than 8 years) was made in a patient with resistant pre-B lymphoblastic leukemia who received infusions with graded increments of donor (female) peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) as soon as bulky hematologic and extramedullary relapse was noticed early post-BMT. The patient is currently without evidence of residual host (male) cells as determined by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Of 17 patients with acute and chronic leukemia in relapse after BMT, 10 were reinduced into complete remission. Four patients with cytogenetic relapse responded to allo-CT alone, while five of six patients with overt hematologic relapse responded only after additional activation of donor with rhIL-2. Allo-CT can, therefore, successfully reverse chemoradiotherapy-resistant relapse of both acute and chronic leukemia. Moreover, in patients resistant to donor lymphocyte infusion, remission can be accomplished by additionally activating donor PBL in vitro and/or in vivo with rhIL-2. Based on our observations, after BMT, allo-CT should be considered the treatment of choice for patients with hematologic malignancies resistant to conventional anticancer modalities. Allogeneic activated cell therapy (allo ACT) should be considered for patients with tumor cells resistant to allo-CT. Although allo-CT, followed if indicated by allo-ACT, can be effective for patients with overt hematologic relapse, reversal of persistent minimal residual disease or documented molecular/cytogenetic relapse early after BMT may also be considered as a possible indication for allo-CT.

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