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Transpl Int. 2007 Mar;20(3):256-65.

Influence of mast cells on outcome after heterotopic cardiac transplantation in rats.

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Department of Surgery, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, Little Rock, AR 72205, USA.


Correlative data suggest that mast cells adversely affect cardiac transplantation. This study uses a mast cell-deficient rat model to directly address the role of mast cells in cardiac allotransplantation. Standardized cardiac heterotopic transplantation with cyclosporine immunosuppression was performed in mast cell-deficient and mast cell-competent rats. Rejection, ischemia, fibrosis, fibrin deposition, numbers of T-cell receptor alpha/beta positive cells, expression of transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta), and of endothelin-1 (ET-1) and its receptors ETA and ETB were assessed. Differences in baseline cardiac gene expression were quantified by real-time PCR in a separate group of untransplanted animals. Baseline cardiac gene expression levels of all investigated growth factors, cytokines, ET-1, ETA, and ETB were similar in mast cell-deficient and mast cell-competent rats. Surprisingly, upon heterotopic transplantation, donor heart survival was significantly reduced in mast cell-deficient rats. Moreover, in mast cell-deficient donor hearts rejection was more severe, although nonsignificant, and extracellular matrix associated TGF-beta immunoreactivity was significantly lower than in mast cell-competent donor hearts. Fibrin immunoreactive area, on the other hand, was only increased in mast cell-deficient donor hearts, but not in mast cell-competent donor hearts. Histopathological changes in all donor hearts were accompanied by increased immunoreactivity for ET-1. In conclusion, this study shows that mast cells play a protective role after cardiac transplantation.

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