Mixed chimerism is a promising approach to inducing allograft and xenograft tolerance. Mixed allogeneic and xenogeneic chimerism in mouse models induced specific tolerance and global hyporesponsiveness, respectively, of host mouse natural killer (NK) cells. In this study, we investigated whether pig/human mixed chimerism could tolerize human NK cells in a humanized mouse model. Our results showed no impact of induced human NK cell reconstitution on porcine chimerism. NK cells from most pig/human mixed chimeric mice showed either specifically decreased cytotoxicity to pig cells or global hyporesponsiveness in anin vitrocytotoxicity assay. Mixed xenogeneic chimerism did not hamper the maturation of human NK cells but was associated with an alteration in NK cell subset distribution and interferon gamma (IFN-γ) production in the bone marrow. In summary, we demonstrate that mixed xenogeneic chimerism induces human NK cell hyporesponsiveness to pig cells. Our results support the use of this approach to inducing xenogeneic tolerance in the clinical setting. However, additional approaches are required to improve the efficacy of tolerance induction while ensuring adequate NK cell functions.
In a humanized mouse model, human natural killer cells induced in the presence of pig hematopoietic chimerism demonstrate either specific hyporesponsiveness to pig cells or global hyporesponsiveness in terms of cytotoxicity and cytokine responses in vitro.