Antigen-specific T-lymphocyte function after cord blood transplantation.
It has not been possible to determine the singular contribution of naive T lymphocytes to antigen-specific immunity after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), because of the confounding effects of donor-derived antigen-specific T lymphocytes present in most hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) products. Because umbilical cord blood contains only naive T lymphocytes, we longitudinally evaluated the recipients of unrelated cord blood transplantation (UCBT) for the presence of T lymphocytes with specificity for herpesviruses, to determine the contribution of the naive T lymphocytes to antigen-specific immune reconstitution after HSCT. Antigen-specific T lymphocytes were detected early after UCBT (herpes simplex virus on day 29; cytomegalovirus on day 44; varicella zoster virus on day 94). Overall, 66 of 153 UCBT recipients developed antigen-specific T lymphocytes to 1 or more herpesviruses during the evaluation period. The likelihood of developing antigen-specific T lymphocyte function was not associated with immunophenotypic T lymphocyte reconstitution, transplant cell dose, primary disease, or acute and chronic graft-versus-host disease. These results indicate that naive T lymphocytes present in the HSC inoculum can contribute to the generation of antigen-specific T-lymphocyte immunity early after transplantation.