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Transpl Immunol. 1999 Mar;7(1):51-7.

Trafficking of APC from liver allografts of Flt3L-treated donors: augmentation of potent allostimulatory cells in recipient lymphoid tissue is associated with a switch from tolerance to rejection.

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Thomas E Starzl Transplantation Institute and Department of Surgery, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.


Livers transplanted across major histocompatibility complex (MHC) barriers in mice are normally accepted without recipient immune suppression, and induce a state of functional tolerance. However, markedly increasing functional dendritic cells (DC) in the 'passenger leucocyte' population by donor pretreatment with the hematopoietic growth factor Flt3-ligand (Flt3L; 10 microg/day for 10 days) results in acute allograft rejection. In this study, molecular, immunohistochemical and flow cytometric analysis of donor cell traffick into recipient lymphoid tissue 24 h after liver transplantation (C57BL/10 [H2b]-->C3H [H2k]) was performed. In addition, the capacity of donor-derived cells in these tissues to stimulate host T cell proliferation was examined. Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction analysis revealed increases in donor genomic DNA in both thymi and spleens of mice given livers from Flt3L-treated donors compared to controls. Donor MHC class II+ (IAb+) cells in spleens were strikingly elevated (10-fold) in the former group. Two-colour flow cytometry revealed a similar increase in donor-derived H-2Kb+/I-Ab+ cells, and in the incidence of donor leucocytes expressing CD40, CD80, and CD86. CD11c+ DC comprised approximately 40% of the I-Ab+ cells in spleens of mice given livers from Flt3L-treated donors. These changes were associated with the presence, in spleens, of potent allostimulatory activity for naive recipient strain T cells, that was not observed in normal liver recipients. Elicitation of allograft rejection, associated with enhanced trafficking of stimulatory donor antigen-presenting cells (APC), in particular DC, suggests that normal liver graft survival and tolerance induction may be linked to failure/counter-regulation of APC-driven stimulation of effective anti-donor T cell responses.

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