In the National Cancer Institute's Second Workshop on the Biology, Prevention, and Treatment of Relapse after Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation, the Scientific/Educational Session on the Biology of Relapse discussed recent advances in understanding some of the host-, disease-, and transplantation-related contributions to relapse, emphasizing concepts with potential therapeutic implications. Relapse after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) represents tumor escape, from the cytotoxic effects of the conditioning regimen and from immunologic control mediated by reconstituted lymphocyte populations. Factors influencing the biology of the therapeutic graft-versus-malignancy (GVM) effect-and relapse-include conditioning regimen effects on lymphocyte populations and homeostasis, immunologic niches, and the tumor microenvironment; reconstitution of lymphocyte populations and establishment of functional immune competence; and genetic heterogeneity within the malignancy defining potential for clonal escape. Recent developments in T cell and natural killer cell homeostasis and reconstitution are reviewed, with implications for prevention and treatment of relapse, as is the application of modern genome sequencing to defining the biologic basis of GVM, clonal escape, and relapse after HSCT.
- Stem cell transplantation