Natural killer (NK) cells can enhance engraftment and mediate graft-versus-leukemia following allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), but the potency of graft-versus-leukemia mediated by naturally reconstituting NK cells following HSCT is limited. Preclinical studies demonstrate that activation of NK cells using interleukin-15 (IL-15) plus 4-1BBL upregulates activating receptor expression and augments killing capacity. In an effort to amplify the beneficial effects of NKcells post-HSCT,we conducted a first-in-human trial of adoptive transfer of donor-derived IL-15/4-1BBL-activated NK cells (aNK-DLI) following HLA-matched, T-cell-depleted (1-2 × 104 T cells/kg) nonmyeloablative peripheral blood stem cell transplantation in children and young adults with ultra-high-risk solid tumors. aNK-DLI were CD3+-depleted, CD56+-selected lymphocytes, cultured for 9 to 11 days with recombinant human IL-15 plus 4-1BBL+IL-15Rα+ artificial antigen-presenting cells. aNK-DLI demonstrated potent killing capacity and displayed high levels of activating receptor expression. Five of 9 transplant recipients experienced acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) following aNK-DLI, with grade 4 GVHD observed in 3 subjects. GVHD was more common in matched unrelated donor vs matched sibling donor recipients and was associated with higher donor CD3 chimerism. Given that the T-cell dose was below the threshold required for GVHD in this setting, we conclude that aNK-DLI contributed to the acute GVHD observed, likely by augmenting underlying T-cell alloreactivity. This trial was registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov as #NCT01287104.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology