Most patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) respond initially to combination chemotherapy but later relapse. These patients often die from progressive disease or toxicities of further chemotherapy. At relapse, the patients blasts are usually resistant to the drugs to which the patient has been exposed and frequently to other cytotoxic agents as well. Nevertheless, a number of these patients may be salvaged and achieve remissions with allogeneic stem cell transplants. In such cases, the pre-transplant conditioning regimens do not appear to account for the entire anti-leukemic efficacy. Immunological mechanisms for blast killing appear critical. There is tissue culture, animal and clinical evidence that stimulated donor T cells can recognize and kill leukemic blasts through recognition of alloantigens, differentiation antigens or leukemia-specific antigens as targets. We will review the molecular mechanisms for the generation of anti-leukemic T cells and discuss methods to improve the specificity a nd intensity of anti-leukemic T cell responses in the setting of allogeneic stem cell transplants, donor lymphocyte infusions, autologous anti-leukemic T cell infusions, and vaccine use in AML patients.
Keywords: Immunotherapy, acute myeloid Leukemia, acute myeloid aml, cheotherapy, alloantigenes, leukemia-specific antigenes, anti-leukemic t cell infusions, immunity, aml antigens, immuno-stimulatory peptides, antigen processing