Ex vivo rapamycin generates apoptosis-resistant donor Th2 cells that persist in vivo and prevent hemopoietic stem cell graft rejection

Jacopo Mariotti, Jason Foley, Unsu Jung, Todd Borenstein, Nermina Kantardzic, Soo Han, Joshua T. Hanson, Elaine Wong, Nicole Buxhoeveden, Jane B. Trepel, Antonio Tito Fojo, William Telford, Daniel H. Fowler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Because ex vivo rapamycin generates murine Th2 cells that prevent Graft-versus-host disease more potently than control Th2 cells, we hypothesized that rapamycin would generate Th2/Tc2 cells (Th2/Tc2.R cells) that abrogate fully MHC-disparate hemopoietic stem cell rejection more effectively than control Th2/Tc2 cells. In a B6-into-BALB/c graft rejection model, donor Th2/Tc2.R cells were indeed enriched in their capacity to prevent rejection; importantly, highly purified CD4+ Th2.R cells were also highly efficacious for preventing rejection. Rapamycin-generated Th2/Tc2 cells were less likely to die after adoptive transfer, accumulated in vivo at advanced proliferative cycles, and were present in 10-fold higher numbers than control Th2/Tc2 cells. Th2.R cells had a multifaceted, apoptosis-resistant phenotype, including: 1) reduced apoptosis after staurosporine addition, serum starvation, or CD3/CD28 costimulation; 2) reduced activation of caspases 3 and 9; and 3) increased anti-apoptotic Bcl-xL expression and reduced proapoptotic Bim and Bid expression. Using host-versus-graft reactivity as an immune correlate of graft rejection, we found that the in vivo efficacy of Th2/Tc2.R cells 1) did not require Th2/Tc2.R cell expression of IL-4, IL-10, perforin, or Fas ligand; 2) could not be reversed by IL-2, IL-7, or IL-15 posttransplant therapy; and 3) was intact after therapy with Th2.R cells relatively devoid of Foxp3 expression. We conclude that ex vivo rapamycin generates Th2 cells that are resistant to apoptosis, persist in vivo, and effectively prevent rejection by a mechanism that may be distinct from previously described graft-facilitating T cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-105
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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