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Am J Transplant. 2019 Nov 15. doi: 10.1111/ajt.15707. [Epub ahead of print]

Extracellular vesicles derived from injured vascular tissue promote the formation of tertiary lymphoid structures in vascular allografts.

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Research Centre, Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CRCHUM), Montréal, Québec, Canada.
Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada.
Canadian National Transplantation Research Program, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Centre de recherche du CHU Ste-Justine, Université de Montréal, Département de pathologie, Montréal, Québec, Canada.
Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer & Department of Pathology and Cell Biology, University of Montreal, Québec, Canada.
Centre de Recherche du CHU de Québec, Université Laval, Québec, Canada.


Tertiary lymphoid structures (TLS) accumulate at sites of chronic injury where they function as an ectopic germinal center, fostering local autoimmune responses. Vascular injury leads to the release of endothelial-derived apoptotic exosome-like vesicles (ApoExo) that contribute to rejection in transplanted organs. The purpose of the study was to evaluate the impact of ApoExo on TLS formation in a model of vascular allograft rejection. Mice transplanted with an allogeneic aortic transplant were injected with ApoExo. The formation of TLS was significantly increased by ApoExo injection along with vascular remodeling and increased levels of anti-nuclear antibodies and anti-perlecan/LG3 autoantibodies. ApoExo also enhanced allograft infiltration by γδT17 cells. Recipients deficient in γδT cells showed reduced TLS formation and lower autoantibodies levels following ApoExo injection. ApoExo are characterized by proteasome activity which can be blocked by bortezomib. Bortezomib treated ApoExo reduced the recruitment of γδT17 cells to the allograft, lowered TLS formation and reduced autoantibody production. This study identifies vascular injury derived extracellular vesicles (ApoExo), as initiators of TLS formation and demonstrates the pivotal role of γδT17 in coordinating TLS formation and autoantibody production. Finally, our results suggest proteasome inhibition with bortezomib as a potential option for controlling TLS formation in rejected allografts.


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