Graft-versus-host-disease (GVHD), which results after allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT), is associated with reduced leukemic relapse. This may be mediated by an immunologic attack with subsequent destruction of residual tumor cells. On the other hand, GVHD does not normally occur after autologous BMT (ABMT), which has an inherently high relapse rate. However, an autoimmune syndrome (AIS) similar to GVHD can be induced after autologous/syngeneic BMT by administration of cyclosporine-A (CsA), resulting in the production of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II or Ia autoreactive cytolytic effector cells. Since many hematopoietic malignancies express variable levels of class II molecules, we hypothesized that the adjuvant use of interferon-γ (IFN-γ) with CsA-induced autoimmunity after autologous/syngeneic BMT may upregulate class II antigens on residual tumor cells and make them more susceptible to attack by the la-reactive cells of CsA-induced AIS. The present studies demonstrated that the CsA-induced autoimmune syndrome mediated an anti-tumor effect, although this effect was dependent on challenge with a minimal number of tumor cells. Further studies clearly demonstrated that the antitumor effect could be markedly enhanced by administration of IFN-γ which increased the susceptibility of the tumor to recognition and lysis by the CsA induced autoimmune effector cells. The induction of MHC class II-restricted AIS similar to GVHD by administration of CsA together with the ability to manipulate the surface phenotype of residual tumor cells may lead to decreased relapse rates in the ABMT setting.
ASJC Scopus subject areas