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Am J Transplant. 2010 Jul;10(7):1569-79. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-6143.2010.03148.x.

Sensitization to minor antigens is a significant barrier in bone marrow transplantation and is prevented by CD154:CD40 blockade.

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Institute for Cellular Therapeutics, University of Louisville, KY, USA.


Sensitization to major histocompatibility complex (MHC) alloantigens is critical in transplantation rejection. The mechanism of sensitization to minor histocompatibility antigens (Mi-HAg) has not been thoroughly explored. We used a mouse model of allosensitization to Mi-HAg to study the Mi-HAg sensitization barrier in bone marrow transplantation (BMT). AKR mice were sensitized with MHC congenic Mi-HAg disparate B10.BR skin grafts. Adaptive humoral (B-cells) and cellular (T cells) responses to Mi-HAg are elicited. In subsequent BMT, only 20% of sensitized mice engrafted, while 100% of unsensitized mice did. In vivo cytotoxicity assays showed that Mi-HAg sensitized AKR mice eliminated CFSE labeled donor splenocytes significantly more rapidly than naïve AKR mice but less rapidly than MHC-sensitized recipients. Sera from Mi-HAg sensitized mice also reacted with cells from other mouse strains, suggesting that Mi-HAg peptides were broadly shared between mouse strains. The production of anti-donor-Mi-HAg antibodies was totally prevented in mice treated with anti-CD154 during skin grafting, suggesting a critical role for the CD154:CD40 pathway in B-cell reactivity to Mi-HAg. Moreover, anti-CD154 treatment promoted BM engraftment to 100% in recipients previously sensitized to donor Mi-HAg. Taken together, Mi-HAg sensitization poses a significant barrier in BMT and can be overcome with CD154:CD40 costimulatory blockade.

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