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Transplantation. 1995 Apr 27;59(8):1155-61.

In vivo depletion of CD8+ T cells results in Th2 cytokine production and alternate mechanisms of allograft rejection.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, University of Michigan School of Medicine, Ann Arbor 48109, USA.


A current hypothesis states that Th1 cytokines promote allograft rejection and that Th2 cytokines promote graft acceptance. We present data that question the tolerogenic activity of Th2 cytokines, and we suggest that Th2 cytokines may evoke allograft rejection by recruitment of alternate effector mechanisms. Unmodified rejection of mouse heterotopic cardiac allografts is associated with the accumulation of large numbers of donor-reactive CD8+ CTL within the allograft, which is indicative of a Th1-driven cellular response. However, when recipients are depleted of CD8+ CTL, rejection still occurs and is associated with an aggressive cellular infiltrate rich in eosinophils, large mononuclear cells, and fibroblast-like cells. Eosinophils, which are responsive to the Th2 cytokines IL-4 and IL-5, are not present in unmodified rejecting allografts. Differential production of Th1 versus Th2 cytokines was further suggested by altered levels of IgG2a (promoted by IFN gamma) and IgG1 (promoted by IL-4) alloantibody in the sera of these mice; IgG2a dominated the alloantibody response in unmodified allograft recipients, whereas IgG1 levels increased in recipients depleted of CD8+ CTL. Altered intragraft cytokine gene expression was verified by RT-PCR; Th1 (IL-2, IFN gamma), but not Th2 (IL-4, IL-5, IL-10), cytokine mRNAs were readily detectable in the allografts of unmodified recipients. In contrast, both Th1 and Th2 cytokine genes were expressed in the allografts of mice depleted of CD8+ CTL. These data suggest that donor-reactive CD8+ CTL inhibit intragraft production of Th2 cytokines, thereby promoting a Th1 dominated-rejection response. Elimination of CD8+ cells allows Th2 cytokine production, which may have deleterious, rather than protective, effects.

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