Immune restoration of patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia in complete cytogenetic remission

Hui Gao, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Imatinib mesylate (IM) and Interferon-alfa (IFN-α) are currently the two most efficacious therapies for patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). IFN-α induces durable complete cytogentic remission (CCR) in about 25% of CML patients whereas IM, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor, induces CCR in 50% of patients who are resistant to IFN-α and in 75% of patients in early chronic phase of CML. However, the detection of minimal residual disease without clinical relapse suggests that host immune surveillance plays a very important role in controlling the progression of disease. T lymphocytes and dendritic cells (DC) are the two most crucial players in the immune system. In my study, we focused on the effects of treatment with either IM or IFN-α on the functions of both DC and T cells, as exemplified by the ability of DC to present antigen to T cells and activated T cells to synthesize cytokines. Our studies show that cytokine production by T cells activated through the T-cell receptor (TCR) was significantly lower in CML patients treated with IM, but not with IFN-α, when compared with activated T cells of control subjects. Suppression of T cell function by IM albeit transient and reversible, was through the downregulation of the phosphorylation of Zap-70, Lck, and LAT. Our data also show that the myeloid DC (DC1) and the plasmacytoid DC (DC2) are lower in chronic phase CML. Whereas neither therapy restored the level of DC2 to normal levels, the number of DC1 was normalized by either therapy. However, only IFN-α, and not IM, restored DC2 function to normal, as exemplified by the production of IFN-α in response to exposure to live influenza virus. Moreover, in vitro differentiation and maturation of DC1 from monocyte precursors in patients receiving either therapy was not normal and was reflected in their ability to present antigen to autologous T cells. In summary, we report that there are differences in immune responses of CML patients treated with IM or IFN-α that may be the result of long-term effects on the host immune system by the individual therapy.

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Recommended Citation

Gao, Hui, "Immune restoration of patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia in complete cytogenetic remission" (2005). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3163230.