[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Adoptive immunotherapy with donor T lymphocytes may be used as a treatment for relapsed leukemia after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (SCT). In vitro selected and expanded anti-leukemic T cells may be more effective in inducing a response in vivo. To identify the anti-leukemic reactivity of in vitro generated T cells, standard target cell read-out assays like the 51Cr-release assay are not always appropriate. We developed an assay in which the ability of T cells to antigen specifically inhibit the in vitro growth of leukemic progenitor cells in the presence of cytokines can be measured. This assay allows the evaluation of the cytolytic or suppressive potential of leukemia reactive T cells for prolonged periods of time. The assay is based on inhibition of [3H]thymidine incorporation by the leukemic progenitor cells induced by multiple hematopoietic growth factors. T cell clones with a known specificity were used to compare the analytic potential of the new assay with those of other cytotoxicity assays. Based on the results of the T cell clones, a modification of a limiting dilution assay was developed to identify anti-leukemic allogeneic T cells in HLA identical donor-recipient combinations selected on their ability to inhibit the in vitro growth of CML or AML progenitor cells, to be used for the generation of leukemia-reactive CTL lines for clinical use.