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Transplantation. 1996 Dec 27;62(12):1920-7.

T cell independence of macrophage and natural killer cell infiltration, cytokine production, and endothelial activation during delayed xenograft rejection.

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1
Sandoz Center for Immunobiology, New England Deaconess Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA.

Abstract

Rejection of guinea pig cardiac grafts in rats depleted of complement takes place in 3-4 days and involves progressive mononuclear cell infiltration and cytokine expression, fibrin and antibody deposition, and endothelial cell up-regulation of adhesion and procoagulant molecules, a process termed delayed xenograft rejection (DXR). The relative contribution of each effector mechanism and the role of T cells in this complex process are unknown, although small numbers of interleukin (IL) 2 receptor-positive T cells are present at the time of rejection. We investigated the importance of T cells in DXR by comparing discordant xenograft responses of nude rats, which lack T cell receptor (TCR)-alpha/beta+ cells, with those of normal Lewis rats. Nude or Lewis rats receiving guinea pig cardiac grafts were assigned to one of three groups: no therapy, daily administration of cobra venom factor (CVF), or splenectomy plus daily CVF. All untreated rats rejected their xenografts within 10-15 min, whereas grafts in complement-depleted recipients survived a further 3-4 days; splenectomy had no significant additional effect upon graft survival. Immunohistologic analysis in CVF-treated nude recipients with or without splenectomy showed: (1) considerable leukocyte infiltration of xenografts (mean +/- SD, 76+/-14 and 71+/-16 leukocytes/field, respectively, at 72 hr, compared with 68+/-17 in Lewis rats), consisting largely of macrophages (>75% of total leukocytes) plus small numbers of natural killer cells (10-20%) with no detectable B or T cells (TCR-alpha/beta or TCR-gamma/delta); (2) at least 10-fold lower levels of intragraft IgM or IgG deposition than in corresponding Lewis recipients; and (3) considerable cytokine expression by intragraft macrophages (IL-12, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1, IL-1beta, IL-6, IL-7, IL-12) and natural killer cells (interferon-gamma), as well as up-regulation of tissue factor expression and dense fibrin deposition. Analysis of recipient sera of both control and nude rats by ELISA, for the binding of IgG or IgM to guinea pig platelets, showed a rapid rise after transplantation in the titers of IgM and IgG antibodies, which was abrogated by prior splenectomy; i.e., data from splenectomized xenograft recipients reflect the presence of only basal levels of IgM and IgG. Thus, our data in nude rats show rejection times and intragraft features of DXR comparable to those in immunocompetent Lewis recipients, despite a lack of detectable host T cells, and, in the case of splenectomized rats, only about one tenth of normal xenoreactive antibody levels. Our data document a new model in which to analyze the immunopathogenesis of DXR.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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