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Nat Med. 1999 Nov;5(11):1292-7.

The functional relevance of passenger leukocytes and microchimerism for heart allograft acceptance in the rat.

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Klinik für Viszeral-und Transplantationschirurgie, Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Carl-Neuberg Strasse 1, D-30623 Hannover, Germany.


With an organ transplant, hematopoietic donor cells are transferred to the recipient. To study the relevance of the resulting microchimerism for allograft acceptance, we analyzed a rat model of cyclosporine-induced tolerance for strongly incompatible heart allografts. Using a monoclonal antibody that detects a donor-specific CD45 allotype (RT7a), we selectively depleted donor leukocytes at different times after transplantation (days 0 or 18). Depletion was similarly effective at both times. However, only depletion on day 0 prevented tolerance induction and was associated with severe acute or chronic graft rejection. This indicates that passenger leukocytes have an essential immunomodulatory effect on the induction phase of allograft acceptance.

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