Strain Dependence of Interleukin-2-Induced Graft-Versus-Host Disease Protection: Evidence That Interleukin-2 Inhibits Selected CD4 Functions

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Treatment of lethally irradiated mice with a short course of highdose interleukin (IL)-2 markedly inhibits acute and chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), while preserving a graft-versus-leukemia (GVL) effect of allogeneic T-cells. We recently demonstrated that this GVL effect, observed with the EL4 leukemia/lymphoma in the A/J > BIO strain combination, was mediated by CD8+ A/J T-cells in a CD4-independent fashion. IL-2 inhibited only the activity of CD4+ cells, and not that of CD4-independent CD8+ T-cells in A/J spleen cell inocula. This inhibition of CD4 function was sufficient to markedly inhibit GVHD, thus explaining the dissociation of GVHD and GVL in IL-2-treated mice. We have now performed studies to determine the capacity of IL-2 to inhibit GVHD induced across a variety of different histocompatibility barriers. IL-2 significantly delayed GVHD mortality in three of four additional fully major histocompatibility complex (MHC) plus minor-disparate strain combinations when CD4+ T-cells were given. Numbers of CD8+ T-cells comparable to those that might contaminate human marrow demonstrated a relatively poor capacity to produce acute GVHD when given without CD4+ cells in all of three additional strain combinations evaluated. In one of these strain combinations (B10 ? BALB/c), IL-2 protected against acute but not chronic GVHD mortality when CD4+ cells were given with or without CD8+ cells. In one fully allogeneic strain combination, B1O ? A/J, IL-2 did not inhibit the GVHD produced by CD4+ cells given with or without CD8+ cells. IL-2 was unable to inhibit CD8-mediated GVHD in strain combinations differing at isolated class I MHC loci. In a strain combination differing only at multiple minor histoincompatibility antigen (HA) loci, B10 ? C3H.SW, GVHD was largely CD8-dependent, but IL-2 did not inhibit the small CD4-mediated component of GVHD. Together, these results suggest that IL-2 inhibits a restricted subset of CD4 cells or functions, and that the type of CD4 activities mediating GVHD is determined by the particular histoincompatibilities between donor and host

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