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Reconstitution of Th17, Tc17 and Treg cells after paediatric haematopoietic stem cell transplantation: Impact of interleukin-7

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Successful reconstitution of T lymphocytes after allogeneic haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is needed to establish the graft-versus-leukaemia effect and an effective anti-microbial defense, but the ratio between functionally different T-cell subsets needs to be balanced to avoid graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). IL-7 is essential for T-cell generation in the thymus and peripheral T-cell homeostasis. High IL-7 levels have been associated with impaired T-cell reconstitution, increased risk of acute GVHD and treatment-related mortality, but the underlying cellular mechanisms behind these associations have not been investigated previously. We hypothesized that increased levels of IL-7 post-transplant alters the balance between immune-regulatory T cell subsets during the post-transplant lymphocyte recovery towards a more pro-inflammatory profile. We quantified Th17 cells, Tc17 cells and Tregs in 29 children following HSCT. Th17 cell and Treg counts rose significantly from day +90 to +180 post-HSCT, and prior acute GVHD was associated with significant changes in the concentration of Tregs (9.4×106/L vs. 1.3×106/L, P=0.0052) and the Th17/Treg ratio (1.5 vs. 4.2, P=0.025). The plasma level of IL-7 at day +90 correlated inversely with Th17 cell counts (rs=-0.65, P=0.0002) and the proportion of Tc17 cells (rs=0.64, P=0.0005) at day +90, but not with Tregs. Furthermore, high IL-7 levels at day +7 were predictive of a less naïve T-cell phenotype at day +90. These findings add further evidence that IL-7 is a key regulatory factor that may tune the balance between functionally different T-cell subsets following HSCT.

Original languageEnglish
JournalImmunobiology
Volume223
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)220-226
Number of pages7
ISSN0171-2985
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018

    Research areas

  • Journal Article

ID: 52166848