Assessment of TREC, KREC and telomere length in long-term survivors after allogeneic HSCT: the role of GvHD and graft source and evidence for telomere homeostasis in young recipients

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Reconstitution of the adaptive immune system following allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation is crucial for beneficial outcome and is affected by several factors, such as GvHD and graft source. The impact of these factors on immune reconstitution has been thoroughly investigated during the early phase after transplantation. However, little is known about their long-term effect. Similarly, leukocyte telomere length (TL) shortening has been reported shortly after transplantation. Nevertheless, whether TL shortening continues in long-term aspect is still unsettled. Here, we assessed T-cell receptor excision circle (TREC), kappa deleting recombination excision circle (KREC) and leukocyte TL in recipients and donors several years post transplantation (median 17 years). Our analysis showed that, recipients who received bone marrow (BM) as the graft source have higher levels of both TREC and KREC. Also, chronic GvHD affected TREC levels and TL but not KREC levels. Finally, we show that recipient's TL was longer than respective donors in a group of young age recipients with high KREC levels. Our results suggest that BM can be beneficial for long-term adaptive immune recovery. We also present supporting evidence for recipient telomere homeostasis, especially in young age recipients, rather than telomere shortening.

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