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Transplantation. 1998 Jul 15;66(1):96-102.

Intrathymic deletion of alloreactive T cells in mixed bone marrow chimeras prepared with a nonmyeloablative conditioning regimen.

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  • 1Bone Marrow Transplantation Section, Transplantation Biology Research Center, Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Boston 02129, USA.



Mixed hematopoietic chimerism induced with a nonmyeloablative conditioning regimen leads to donor-specific transplantation tolerance. Analyses of specific Vbeta-bearing T-cell families that recognize endogenous superantigens demonstrated that donor-specific tolerance is due mainly to an intrathymic deletional mechanism in these mixed chimeras. However, superantigens are not known to behave as classical transplantation antigens. We therefore used T-cell receptor (TCR) transgenic (Tg) recipients expressing a clonotypic TCR specific for an allogeneic major histocompatibility complex antigen to further assess deletional tolerance.


2C TCR Tg mice (H2b), whose Tg TCR recognizes major histocompatibility complex class I Ld, were used as recipients of Ld+ bone marrow cells after conditioning with depleting anti-CD4 and CD8 monoclonal antibodies, 3 Gy whole-body irradiation, and 7 Gy thymic irradiation. Chimerism and deletion of CD8+ 2C recipient T cells was evaluated by flow cytometry and by immunohistochemical staining. Tolerance was tested with in vitro cell-mediated lympholysis assays and in vivo by grafting with donor skin.


Intrathymic and peripheral deletion of 2C+ CD8-single-positive T cells was evident in mixed chimeras, and deletion correlated with the presence of donor-type cells with dendritic morphology in the thymus, and with chimerism in lymphohematopoietic tissues. Chimeras showed tolerance to the donor in cell-mediated lympholysis assays and specifically accepted donor skin grafts.


Tolerance to transplantation antigens is achieved through intrathymic deletion of donor-reactive T cells in mixed chimeras prepared with a nonmyeloablative conditioning regimen and allogeneic bone marrow transplantation.

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