Effectiveness of donor natural killer cell alloreactivity in mismatched hematopoietic transplants

Loredana RuggeriAndrea Velardi


T cells that accompany allogeneic hematopoietic grafts for treating leukemia enhance engraftment and mediate the graft-versus-leukemia effect. Unfortunately, alloreactive T cells also cause graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). T cell depletion prevents GVHD but increases the risk of graft rejection and leukemic relapse. In human transplants, we show that donor-versus-recipient natural killer (NK)-cell alloreactivity could eliminate leukemia relapse and graft rejection and protect patients against GVHD. In mice, the pretransplant infusion of alloreactive NK cells obviated the need for high-intensity conditioning and reduced GVHD. NK cell alloreactivity may thus provide a powerful tool for enhancing the efficacy and safety of allogeneic hematopoietic transplantation.


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