Direct MHC class I complementary DNA transfer to thymus induces donor-specific unresponsiveness, which involves multiple immunologic mechanisms.
Our purposes were 1) to determine whether direct transfer of cDNA encoding allogeneic MHC class I Ag to the rat thymus would be capable of inducing donor-specific unresponsiveness and 2) to study the immunologic mechanism of this effect. Plasmid DNA encoding donor strain (ACI-RT1.Aa) MHC class I Ag was directly injected into Lewis (RT1(l)) rat recipient thymus 7 to 10 days before ACI liver transplantation. A single dose of anti-lymphocyte serum was given i.p. on the day of thymic injection. Rats injected intrathymically with plasmid DNA and treated with anti-lymphocyte serum demonstrated prolonged survival in 9 of 13 rats (>100 days). PCR was used to demonstrate that RT1.Aa cDNA was expressed in thymus transiently and later appeared in spleen. CTL limiting dilution assays showed that CTL precursor frequency was decreased in tolerant liver recipients. To test the hypothesis of clonal deletion vs anergy, CTL limiting dilution assays cultures were restimulated with donor cells and IL-2 to reverse anergy. Restimulation caused CTL precursor frequency to return to near normal in only one of five tolerant rats, suggesting clonal deletion or a dense anergic state. Passive transfer of splenocytes from tolerant rats to naive recipients prolonged cardiac allograft survival, suggesting that suppressor-type cells may also contribute to thymic tolerance in our model. In summary, our data suggest that donor MHC class I Ag expressed in thymus by direct DNA injection, followed by liver allografting, results in donor-specific unresponsiveness. The mechanism of this effect is complex, involving multiple immunologic mechanisms.
Knechtle, SJ; Wang, J; Graeb, C; Zhai, Y; Hong, X; Fechner, JH; Geissler, EK
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