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PLoS One. 2012;7(5):e37202. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0037202. Epub 2012 May 15.

Immunological and regenerative aspects of hepatic mast cells in liver allograft rejection and tolerance.

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  • 1Graduate Institute of Clinical Medical Sciences, Chang Gung University College of Medicine, Niao-Sung, Taiwan. toshi.nakano@msa.hinet.net

Abstract

The precise roles of mast cells in liver allograft rejection and tolerance are still unknown. This study aimed to explore the roles of mast cells in immune regulation and liver regeneration for tolerance induction by using rat models of orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT). Stem cell factor (SCF) and its receptor c-Kit, which are critical to the migration and development of not only stem cells but also mast cells, significantly increased in the tolerogenic livers as compared with rejected livers. The significant elevation of mast cell tryptase, high-affinity IgE receptor, and histamine suggested the activation of mast cells in liver allografts at the tolerogenic phase after OLT. Immunohistochemical analysis using confocal microscope clearly showed colocalization of mast cells, Foxp3+ Tregs, γδ T cells, and recipient-derived hepatic progenitor cells with higher expression of SCF, IL-9, IL-10, TGF-β1, and IL-17 related to immunoregulation and liver regeneration in the donor grafts of a tolerogenic OLT model. Cross-talk among mast cells and other cells was evaluated by in vitro studies demonstrating that syngeneic bone marrow-derived mast cells (BMMCs) co-cultured with naïve splenocytes or primary hepatocytes significantly increased the population of splenic γδ T cells by mitogen stimulation or by mast cell degranulation, and also significantly induced the hepatocyte proliferation, respectively. Our results suggested that mast cells in the donor grafts may play important roles in the induction/maintenance of immune tolerance and liver regeneration resulting in the replacement of hepatic cells from donor to recipient.

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