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Am J Transplant. 2010 Aug;10(8):1738-48. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-6143.2010.03161.x.

Allografts stimulate cross-reactive virus-specific memory CD8 T cells with private specificity.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA, USA.


Viral infections have been associated with the rejection of transplanted allografts in humans and mice, and the induction of tolerance to allogeneic tissues in mice is abrogated by an ongoing viral infection and inhibited in virus-immune mice. One proposed mechanism for this 'heterologous immunity' is the induction of alloreactive T cell responses that cross-react with virus-derived antigens. These cross-reactive CD8 T cells are generated during acute viral infection and survive into memory, but their ability to partake in the immune response to allografts in vivo is not known. We show here that cross-reactive, virus-specific memory CD8 T cells from mice infected with LCMV proliferated in response to allografts. CD8 T cells specific to several LCMV epitopes proliferated in response to alloantigens, with the magnitude and hierarchy of epitope-specific responses varying with the private specificities of the host memory T cell repertoire, as shown by adoptive transfer studies. Last, we show that purified LCMV-specific CD8 T cells rejected skin allografts in SCID mice. These findings therefore implicate a potential role for heterologous immunity in virus-induced allograft rejection.

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