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J Immunol. 2007 Oct 1;179(7):4901-9.

Achieving donor-specific hyporesponsiveness is associated with FOXP3+ regulatory T cell recruitment in human renal allograft infiltrates.

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  • 1Department of Nephrology, Hospital de Bellvitge, Barcelona, Spain. 35830obm@comb.es


Exploring new immunosuppressive strategies inducing donor-specific hyporesponsiveness is an important challenge in transplantation. For this purpose, a careful immune monitoring and graft histology assessment is mandatory. Here, we report the results of a pilot study conducted in twenty renal transplant recipients, analyzing the immunomodulatory effects of a protocol based on induction therapy with rabbit anti-thymocyte globulin low doses, sirolimus, and mofetil mycophenolate. Evolution of donor-specific cellular and humoral alloimmune response, peripheral blood lymphocyte subsets and apoptosis was evaluated. Six-month protocol biopsies were performed to assess histological lesions and presence of FOXP3+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) in interstitial infiltrates. After transplantation, there was an early and transient apoptotic effect, mainly within the CD8+ HLADR+ T cells, combined with a sustained enhancement of CD4+ CD25(+high) lymphocytes in peripheral blood. The incidence of acute rejection was 35%, all steroid sensitive. Importantly, only pretransplant donor-specific cellular alloreactivity could discriminate patients at risk to develop acute rejection. Two thirds of the patients became donor-specific hyporesponders at 6 and 24 mo, and the achievement of this immunologic state was not abrogated by prior acute rejection episodes. Remarkably, donor-specific hyporesponders had the better renal function and less chronic renal damage. Donor-specific hyporesponsiveness was inhibited by depleting CD4+ CD25(+high) T cells, which showed donor-Ag specificity. FOXP3+ CD4+ CD25(+high) Tregs both in peripheral blood and in renal infiltrates were higher in donor-specific hyporesponders than in nonhyporesponders, suggesting that the recruitment of Tregs in the allograft plays an important role for renal acceptance. In conclusion, reaching donor-specific hyporesponsiveness is feasible after renal transplantation and associated with Treg recruitment in the graft.

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