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Transplantation. 2000 Jul 15;70(1):168-74.

Prolonged allograft survival in anti-CD4 antibody transgenic mice: lack of residual helper T cells compared with other CD4-deficient mice.

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University of Melbourne, Department of Surgery, and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute for Medical Research, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Australia.



Investigations of the role of CD4 T lymphocytes in allograft rejection and tolerance have relied on the use of mouse models with a deficiency in CD4 cells. However, in mice treated with depleting monoclonal antibody (mAb) and in MHC class II knockout (KO) mice, there are residual populations of CD4 cells. CD4 KO mice had increased CD4- CD8-TCRalphabeta+ helper T cells, and both strains of KO mice could reject skin allografts at the normal rate. In this study, transgenic mice with no peripheral CD4 cells were the recipients of skin and heart allografts. Results were compared with allograft survival in CD4 and MHC class II KO mice.


GK5 (C57BL/6 bml mice transgenic for a chimeric anti-CD4 antibody) had no peripheral CD4 cells. These mice, and CD4 and class II KO mice, received BALB/c or CBA skin or cardiac allografts. Some GK5 mice were treated with anti-CD8 mAb to investigate the role of CD8 cells in rejection. CD4 and CD8 cells were assessed by FACS and immunohistochemistry.


BALB/c skin on GK5 mice had a mean survival time +/- SD of 24+/-6 days, compared with 9+/-2 days in wild-type mice. Anti-CD8 mAb prolonged this to 66+/-7 days. BALB/c skin survived 10+/-2 days on class II KO and 14+/-2 days on CD4 KO, both significantly less than the survival seen on GK5 recipients (P<0.001). BALB/c hearts survived >100 days in GK5 recipients and in wild-type recipients treated with anti-CD4 mAb at the time of grafting, in contrast to a mean survival time of 10+/-2 days in untreated wild-type mice. Immunohistochemistry revealed that long-term surviving heart allografts from the GK5 recipients had CD8 but no CD4 cellular infiltrate. These hearts showed evidence of transplant vasculopathy.


The GK5 mice, with a complete absence of peripheral CD4 cells, provide the cleanest available model for investigating the role of CD4 lymphocytes in allograft rejection. Prolonged skin allograft survival in these mice compared with CD4 and MHC class II KO recipients was clearly the result of improved CD4 depletion. Nevertheless, skin allograft rejection, heart allograft infiltration, and vascular disease, mediated by CD8 cells, developed in the absence of peripheral CD4 T cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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