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J Immunol. 2009 Dec 15;183(12):7810-6. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0902194.

An innate response to allogeneic nonself mediated by monocytes.

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Departments of Surgery, Immunology, and Medicine, Thomas E Starzl Transplantation Institute, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA.


The mammalian innate immune system has evolved diverse strategies to distinguish self from microbial nonself. How the innate immune system distinguishes self-tissues from those of other members of the same species (allogeneic nonself) is less clear. To address this question, we studied the cutaneous hypersensitivity response of lymphocyte-deficient RAG(-/-) mice to spleen cells transplanted from either allogeneic or syngeneic RAG(-/-) donors. We found that RAG(-/-) mice mount a specific response to allogeneic cells characterized by swelling and infiltration of the skin with host monocytes/macrophages and neutrophils. The response required prior priming with allogeneic splenocytes or skin grafts and exhibited features of memory as it could be elicited at least 4 wk after immunization. Neither depletion of host NK cells nor rechallenging immunized mice with F(1) hybrid splenocytes inhibited the response, indicating that the response is not mediated by NK cells. Depletion of host monocytes/macrophages or neutrophils at the time of rechallenge significantly diminished the response and, importantly, the adoptive transfer of monocytes from alloimmunized RAG(-/-) mice conferred alloimmunity to naive RAG(-/-) hosts. Unlike NK- and T cell-dependent alloresponses, monocyte-mediated alloimmunity could be elicited only when donor and responder mice differed at non-MHC loci. These observations indicate that monocytes mount a response to allogeneic nonself, a function not previously attributed to them, and suggest the existence of mammalian innate allorecognition strategies distinct from detection of missing self-MHC molecules by NK cells.

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