Detection of identical T-cell clonotype expansions in both the donor and recipient after allogeneic bone marrow transplantation

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Using phenotypic, functional and molecular techniques, this study was performed to compare the complexity of the T-cell receptor repertoire of a bone marrow transplanted patient with that of his HLA-matched related donor, both of whom developed a chronic lymphocytosis sustained by CD3+ CD8+ CD57+ CD16- CD56- granular lymphocytes 3 years after transplantation. Although Southern blot analysis revealed the presence of extra bands in both subjects, thus indicating the presence of at least one clonal T-cell population, the study of the different T-cell receptor V beta (TCRBV) usage did not demonstrate discrete overexpression of any TCRBV segments. On the contrary, heteroduplex analysis of TCRBV transcripts suggested the presence of oligoclonal T-cell expansions in the two subjects. Cloning and sequencing studies demonstrated that T-cell clones expressing identical TCRBV chains were expanded both in the donor and in the recipient. Furthermore, clones with similar, but not identical, junctional regions were also found in the two subjects. These data indicate that, at the time of the graft, a few cells with a monoclonal/oligoclonal pattern that were present in the donor were transferred to the recipient, where they may have found the same environmental in vivo conditions and/or the antigenic pressure favouring their abnormal expansion.

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