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Front Immunol. 2019 Jan 23;9:3038. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.03038. eCollection 2018.

Germinal Center Alloantibody Responses Mediate Progression of Chronic Allograft Injury.

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School of Clinical Medicine, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.
Department of Pathology, Papworth Hospital, Papworth Everard, United Kingdom.
Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics Laboratory, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge, United Kingdom.
Laboratory of Lymphocyte Signalling and Development, Babraham Institute, Cambridge, United Kingdom.
Division of Surgery and Interventional Science, University College London, London, United Kingdom.
Centre for Transplantation, Department of Renal Medicine, University College London, London, United Kingdom.
Institute of Immunity and Transplantation, University College London, London, United Kingdom.


Different profiles of alloantibody responses are observed in the clinic, with those that persist, often despite targeted treatment, associated with poorer long-term transplant outcomes. Although such responses would suggest an underlying germinal center (GC) response, the relationship to cellular events within the allospecific B cell population is unclear. Here we examine the contribution of germinal center (GC) humoral alloimmunity to chronic antibody mediated rejection (AMR). A murine model of chronic AMR was developed in which T cell deficient (Tcrbd -/-) C57BL/6 recipients were challenged with MHC-mismatched BALB/c heart allografts and T cell help provided by reconstituting with 103 "TCR75" CD4 T cells that recognize self-restricted allopeptide derived from the H-2Kd MHC class I alloantigen. Reconstituted recipients developed Ig-switched anti-Kd alloantibody responses that were slow to develop, but long-lived, with confocal immunofluorescence and flow cytometric characterization of responding H-2Kd-allospecific B cells confirming persistent splenic GC activity. This was associated with T follicular helper (TFH) cell differentiation of the transferred TCR75 CD4 T cells. Heart grafts developed progressive allograft vasculopathy, and were rejected chronically (MST 50 days), with explanted allografts displaying features of humoral vascular rejection. Critically, late alloantibody responses were abolished, and heart grafts survived indefinitely, in recipients reconstituted with Sh2d1a -/- TCR75 CD4 T cells that were genetically incapable of providing TFH cell function. The GC response was associated with affinity maturation of the anti-Kd alloantibody response, and its contribution to progression of allograft vasculopathy related principally to secretion of alloantibody, rather than to enhanced alloreactive T cell priming, because grafts survived long-term when B cells could present alloantigen, but not secrete alloantibody. Similarly, sera sampled at late time points from chronically-rejecting recipients induced more vigorous donor endothelial responses in vitro than sera sampled earlier after transplantation. In summary, our results suggest that chronic AMR and progression of allograft vasculopathy is dependent upon allospecific GC activity, with critical help provided by TFH cells. Clinical strategies that target the TFH cell subset may hold therapeutic potential. This work is composed of two parts, of which this is Part II. Please read also Part I: Alsughayyir et al., 2019.


allograft; extrafollicular B cell response; germinal center (GC); humoral allograft rejection; transplantation

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