Background and Objectives: Interleukin-7 (IL-7) has been studied for its possible immunorestorative capacities following stem cell transplantation and has been shown to enhance post-transplant immune recovery predominantly by peripheral T-cell expansion. A major concern of IL-7 is its possible aggravating effect on graft-versus-host and host-versus-graft reactivity. Design and Methods: To study the effect of IL-7 on host-versus-graft reactivity, we applied IL-7 in an experimental transplantation model using RAG-1-/-mice supplied with B6 CD45.1 congenic T cells as recipients of T-cell depleted allogeneic bone marrow grafts. Results: Rejection of minor antigen-mismatched bone marrow was significantly reduced in IL-7 treated recipients compared with PBS treated control mice. Rejection was observed in 2 out of 18 IL-7 treated mice compared with 9 out of 17 PBS treated mice (11% vs. 53%; p=0.012). IL-7 administration resulted in enhanced recovery of peripheral blood CD4+CD25+regulatory T cells (Treg) with a concomitant increase in peripheral blood Foxp3 mRNA expression. IL-7Rα (CD127) was expressed by the vast majority of CD4+Foxp3+T cells. The incidence of graft rejection following fully MHC mismatched bone marrow transplantation was not reduced nor enhanced by IL-7 administration. Interpretation and Conclusions: Post-transplant IL-7 administration protects against minor antigen-mismatched bone marrow rejection, which may be due to enhanced Treg recovery.

Bone marrow transplantation, Graft rejection, Interleukin-7, Regulatory T cells,
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Broers, A.E.C, Bruinsma, M, Posthumus-van Sluijs, S.J, Wils, E-J, Spits, H, Löwenberg, B, … Cornelissen, J.J. (2007). IL-7 mediated protection against minor antigen-mismatched allograft rejection is associated with enhanced recovery of regulatory T cells. Haematologica, 92(8), 1099–1106. doi:10.3324/haematol.10625