Aggressive stem cells might improve transplant outcome

ng mechanism called a T cell receptor that lets them find the specific target they are genetically programmed to attack.

The key to the new finding is the discovery by the St. Jude team that the antibody currently used to seek out and "capture" CD34+ stem cells from the donated bone marrow actually identifies only a certain group of them, according to Raymond Barfield, M.D., Ph.D., assistant member of the Bone Marrow Transplantation division at St. Jude. The antibody usually used to capture CD34+ cells, called a class II antibody, recognizes a particular target on the CD34+ cells, Barfield said. But this antibody does not as easily recognize more vigorous CD34+ cells that mature and reproduce faster. These more aggressive stem cells have a different target on their surface that is best recognized by another type of antibody, called class III.

The St. Jude investigators first demonstrated that class II and III antibodies bind to different populations of CD34+ cells by adding both of these antibodies to pieces of human thymus glands. The pieces of thymus glands used in the study had been removed from children during operations unconnected to this research and would otherwise have been discarded.

Using the different types of antibodies, the scientists determined which one produced T lymphocytes faster by measuring the amount of rings of DNA called sjTRECs the cells released. T lymphocytes discard sjTRECs as they develop from stem cells in the thymus and "learn" to recognize a specific target. (St. Jude researchers previously showed that by measuring sjTRECs clinicians could predict whether a bone marrow stem cell transplant would successfully restore the recipient's T lymphocyte population:


The investigators found that the lymphocytes captured by class III antibodies produced more sjTRECs than ste

Contact: Bonnie Kourvelas
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

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