Evidence that appearance of thymulin in plasma follows lymphoid chimerism and precedes development of immunity in patients with lethal combined immunodeficiency transplanted with T-cell depleted haploidentical marrow
Bone Marrow Transplantation
Immunologic Deficiency Syndromes
Thymic Factor, Circulating
Thymulin, a peptide secreted by human thymic epithelial cells, circulates in peripheral blood. Levels of plasma thymulin (FTS-Zn) activity were analyzed in 21 patients with lethal combined immunodeficiency disorders who were treated with transplantation of HLA-haplotype-mismatched parental bone marrow depleted of T cells by differential agglutination with soybean agglutinin and E-rosetting (SBA-E-BMT). Among these 21 infants, 15 were patients with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) and 6 had combined immunodeficiency (CID) with Omenn's syndrome or CID with T cell predominance (CIDTP). In contrast to normal infants who possess high levels of plasma thymulin activity, 20 of the 21 patients demonstrated undetectable or low plasma thymulin levels for their age at admission prior to transplantation. Following SBA-E-BMT, however, thymulin became detectable in the plasma of 17 of 18 evaluable patients and reached normal or near-normal levels between 21 and 125 days posttransplant. In patients in whom the timing of engraftment could be established by emergence of donor lymphocytes, thymulin appeared in the plasma at approximately the same time as lymphoid chimerism was detected, and in all patients who were engrafted and immunologically reconstituted, the increment in thymulin levels preceded development of immune functions. These studies support the concept that normal marrow-derived cells in the graft can provide a stimulus necessary for induction of thymic epithelial secretory function in patients with thymic dysplasia. Further, immunologic reconstitution in these patients was not seen following SBA-E-BMT unless and until recovery of thymus function had been observed.