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Cell Mol Immunol. 2017 Jun;14(6):497-510. doi: 10.1038/cmi.2015.101. Epub 2016 Feb 29.

T follicular helper expansion and humoral-mediated rejection are independent of the HVEM/BTLA pathway.

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Transplantation Immunobiology Section, Institute of Biomedicine, University of Leon and Castilla and Leon Regional Transplantation Coordination, Leon University Hospital, Leon, Spain.
Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, University of Santiago de Compostela, Veterinary Faculty, Lugo, Spain.
Visceral and Transplantation Surgery, Department of Surgery, University Hospitals of Geneva and Faculty of Medicine, Geneva, Switzerland.


The molecular pathways contributing to humoral-mediated allograft rejection are poorly defined. In this study, we assessed the role of the herpesvirus entry mediator/B- and T-lymphocyte attenuator (HVEM/BTLA) signalling pathway in the context of antibody-mediated allograft rejection. An experimental setting was designed to elucidate whether the blockade of HVEM/BTLA interactions could modulate de novo induction of host antidonor-specific antibodies during the course of graft rejection. To test this hypothesis, fully allogeneic major histocompatibility complex-mismatched skin grafts were transplanted onto the right flank of recipient mice that were treated with isotype control, anti-CD40L or modulatory antibodies of the HVEM/BTLA signalling pathway. The frequencies of CD4 T follicular helper (Tfh) cells (B220-, CD4+ CXCR5+ PD-1high), extrafollicular helper cells (B220-, CD4+ CXCR5- PD-1+ and PD-1-) and germinal centre (GC) B cells (B220+Fas+ GL7+) were analysed by flow cytometry in draining and non-draining lymph nodes at day 10 post transplantation during the acute phase of graft rejection. The host antidonor isotype-specific humoral immune response was also assessed. Whereas blockade of the CD40/CD40L pathway was highly effective in preventing the allogeneic humoral immune response, antibody-mediated blockade of the HVEM/BTLA-interacting pathway affected neither the expansion of Tfh cells nor the expansion of GC B cells. Consequently, the course of the host antidonor antibody-mediated response proceeded normally, without detectable evidence of impaired development. In summary, these data indicate that HVEM/BTLA interactions are dispensable for the formation of de novo host antidonor isotype-specific antibodies in transplantation.

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