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Am J Transplant. 2010 Jan;10(1):162-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-6143.2009.02871.x. Epub 2009 Nov 24.

Type I interferons are not critical for skin allograft rejection or the generation of donor-specific CD8+ memory T cells.

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Department of Surgery, Starzl Transplantation Institute, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.


Type I interferons (IFN-I) link innate to adaptive immunity in microbial infection, autoimmune disease and tumor immunity. It is not known whether IFN-I have an equally central role in alloimmunity. Here we tested this possibility by studying skin allograft survival and donor-specific CD8+ T-cell responses in mice that lack the IFN-I receptor (IFN-IR-/-). We found that IFN-IR-/- mice reject fully allogeneic wild-type skin grafts at the same rate as wild-type recipients. Similarly, allograft rejection was not delayed if IFN-IR-/- male skin was transplanted to syngeneic IFN-IR-/- female mice. Quantitation of the male (H-Y)-specific CD8+ T-cell response in these mice revealed normal generation of donor-specific CD8+ effector T cells but fourfold reduction in CD8+ memory T cells. Memory CD8+ T cells generated in the absence of IFN-IR had normal phenotype and recall function, assessed by ex vivo cytokine production and the ability of IFN-IR-/- mice to mount second set rejection. Finally, these memory T cells were maintained at a constant number despite their inability to respond to IFN-1. Our findings indicate that IFN-I cytokines are not critical for acute allograft rejection or for the expansion and differentiation of donor-specific CD8+ T cells into long-lived, functional memory T cells.

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