Purpose: GVHD after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (alloSCT) has been associated with low numbers of circulating CD4+CD25+FoxP3+ regulatory T cells (Tregs). Because Tregs express high levels of the interleukin (IL)-2 receptor, they may selectively expand in vivo in response to doses of IL-2 insufficient to stimulate T effector T-cell populations, thereby preventing GVHD. Experimental Design: We prospectively evaluated the effects of ultra low-dose (ULD) IL-2 injections on Treg recovery in pediatric patients after alloSCT and compared this recovery with Treg reconstitution post alloSCT in patients without IL-2. Sixteen recipients of related (n = 12) or unrelated (n = 4) donor grafts received ULD IL-2 post hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT; 100,000-200,000 IU/m2 3 per week), starting <day 30 and continuing for 6 to 12 weeks. Results: No grade 3/4 toxicities were associated with ULD IL-2. CD4+CD25+FoxP3+ Tregs increased from a mean of 4.8% (range, 0%-11.0%) pre IL-2 to 11.1% (range, 1.2%-31.1%) following therapy, with the greatest change occurring in the recipients of matched related donor (MRD) transplants.NoIL-2 patients developed grade 2-4 acute GVHD (aGVHD), compared with 4 of 33 (12%) of the comparator group who did not receive IL-2. IL-2 recipients retained T cells reactive to viral and leukemia antigens, and in the MRD recipients, only 2 of 13 (15%) of the IL-2 patients developed viral infections versus 63% of the comparator group (P = 0.022). Conclusions: Hence,ULDIL-2 is well tolerated, expands a Treg population in vivo, and may be associated with a lower incidence of viral infections and GVHD.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research