In human leukocyte antigen haplotype-mismatched transplantation, extensive T-cell depletion prevents graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) but delays immune recovery. Granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) is given to donors to mobilize stem cells and to recipients to ensure engraftment. Studies have shown that G-CSF promotes T-helper (Th)-2 immune deviation which, unlike Th1 responses, does not protect against intracellular pathogens and fungi. The effect of administration of G-CSF to recipients of mismatched hematopoietic transplants with respect to transplantation outcome and functional immune recovery was investigated. In 43 patients with acute leukemia who received G-CSF after transplantation, the engraftment rate was 95%. However, the patients had a long-lasting type 2 immune reactivity, ie, Th2-inducing dendritic cells not producing interleukin 12 (IL-12) and high frequencies of IL-4- and IL-10-producing CD4(+) cells not expressing the IL-12 receptor beta(2) chain. Similar immune reactivity patterns were observed on exposure of donor cells to G-CSF. Elimination of postgrafting administration of G-CSF in a subsequent series of 36 patients with acute leukemia, while not adversely affecting engraftment rate (93%), resulted in the anticipated appearance of IL-12-producing dendritic cells (1-3 months after transplantation versus > 12 months in transplant recipients given G-CSF), of CD4(+) cells of a mixed Th0/Th1 phenotype, and of antifungal T-cell reactivity in vitro. Moreover, CD4(+) cell counts increased in significantly less time. Finally, elimination of G-CSF-mediated immune suppression did not significantly increase the incidence of GVHD (< 15%). Thus, this study found that administration of G-CSF to recipients of T-cell-depleted hematopoietic transplants was associated with abnormal antigen-presenting cell functions and T-cell reactivity. Elimination of postgrafting administration of G-CSF prevented immune dysregulation and accelerated functional immune recovery.
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