Fas-mediated apoptosis is a major physiologic mechanism by which activated T cells are eliminated after antigen-stimulated clonal expansion generates a specific cellular immune response. Because activated T cells are the major effectors of allograft rejection, we hypothesized that genetically modifying allogeneic bone marrow (BM) cells prior to transplantation could provide some protection from host T-cell attack, thus enhancing donor cell engraftment in bone marrow transplantation (BMT). We undertook studies to determine the outcome of lentiviral vector-mediated transduction of Fas ligand (FasL) into lineage antigen-negative (lin-) mouse BM cells (lin- BMs), in an allogeneic BMT model. FasL-modified lin- BMs killed Fas-expressing T cells in vitro. Mice that received transplants of allogeneic FasL+ lin- BMs had enhanced short-term engraftment, after nonmyeloablative conditioning, as compared to controls. We observed no major hepatic toxicity or hematopoietic or immune impairment in recipient mice at these time points. These results suggest potential therapeutic approaches by manipulating lymphohematopoietic stem-progenitor cells to express FasL or other immune-modulating genes in the context of BMT.
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