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Transplantation. 2012 Feb 27;93(4):364-72. doi: 10.1097/TP.0b013e3182406a6b.

Mechanism of accommodation in a sensitized human leukocyte antigen transgenic murine cardiac transplant model.

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Department of Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, USA.



Presence of donor-specific antibodies (Abs) is detrimental to posttransplant allograft function. Some sensitized recipients have successfully undergone transplantation after pretransplant conditioning regimen using plasmapheresis and/or intravenous immunoglobulin therapy, but underlying mechanisms that confer such allograft protection are undefined.


We developed a single human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-mismatched heterotopic murine heart transplant model (HLA-A2 into HLA-A2-sensitized-C57BL/6) to determine whether pretreatment of donors with low concentration of HLA class I (W6/32) or control Ab (C1.18.4) will confer protection. Expression levels of survival genes, Bcl-2 and heme oxygenase-1, were analyzed by gene array analysis and quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. Expression levels of cytokine panel were analyzed by Luminex. Role of Bcl-2 in the induction of allograft protection was analyzed by silencing the Bcl-2 expression in the donor hearts using a small hairpin (shRNA) specific for Bcl-2.


Control Ab-pretreated hearts were rejected in less than 5 days demonstrating hemorrhage, Ab, and C4 deposition. In contrast, W6/32-pretreated hearts were rejected at 15 days (P<0.05) that was prolonged to 25 days with antilymphocyte serum treatment. W6/32-pretreated hearts on day 5 exhibited increased expression of Bcl-2 (5.5-folds), Bcl-xl (5.5-folds), and heme oxygenase-1 (4.4-folds); decreased expression of ICAM-1, VCAM-1 (3.2-fold), along with reduced levels of cytokines interleukin (IL)-1β (4.4-folds), tumor necrosis factor α (3.7-folds), IL-6 (7.5-folds), IL-12 (2.3-folds) and chemokines monocyte chemotactic protein 1 (4.5-folds), MIG (4.4-folds), MIP-1α (3.4-folds), and IL-8 (3.1-folds). Silencing of Bcl-2 in accommodated hearts before transplant resulted in loss of protection with rejection (9±3 vs. 15±2days, P<0.05).


Pretreatment of hearts with low levels of anti-HLA Abs increases expression of antiapoptotic genes that inhibits caspases, leading to decreased inflammatory cytokines and chemokines, which promote allograft survival.

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