Previous work from this laboratory has demonstrated that T cell-depleted (TCD) syngeneic marrow can delay, but not prevent, the mortality from acute graft-vs.-host disease (GVHD) caused by MHC-mismatched lymphoid cells administered to lethally irradiated mice. We demonstrate here that a protective effect against GVHD is also observed after in vivo treatment with IL-2. Administration of 10,000-50,000 U of IL-2 twice daily for the first 5 d after bone marrow transplantation markedly reduced the mortality from both acute and chronic GVHD induced across complete MHC barriers in lethally irradiated mice, and frequently led to long-term survival. Complete allogeneic reconstitution was demonstrated in all long-term survivors of this treatment regimen. While either IL-2 or TCD syngeneic marrow administered alone was protective in some experiments, the maximal protective effect was observed after administration of both IL-2 and TCD syngeneic marrow, especially when the effects of IL-2 were suboptimal. The timing of IL-2 administration was critical to this beneficial effect, since a delay of 7 d in commencing IL-2 treatment was associated with accelerated GVHD mortality. This new approach to the prevention of GVHD permits the administration of allogeneic T cells, and may therefore avoid the increased incidence of graft failure and loss of antileukemic effects associated with the T cell depletion of allogeneic marrow, which is otherwise required for the prevention of GVHD.

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