Indirect CD4+ TH1 Response, Antidonor Antibodies and Diffuse C4d Graft Deposits in Long-Term Recipients Conditioned by Donor Antigens Priming

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Priming of recipients by DST induces long-term survival of mismatched allografts in adult rats. Despite these recipients developing inducible T regulatory cells able to transfer long-term graft survival to a secondary host, a state of chronic rejection is also observed. We revisited the molecular donor MHC targets of the cellular response in acute rejection and analyzed the cellular and humoral responses in recipients with long-term graft survival following transplantation. We found three immunodominant peptides, all derived from LEW.1W RT1.Du molecules to be involved in acute rejection of grafts from unmodified LEW.1A recipients. Although the direct pathway of allorecognition was reduced in DST-treated recipients, the early CD4+ indirect pathway response to dominant peptides was almost unimpaired. We also detected early and sustained antidonor class I and II antibody subtypes with diffuse C4d deposits on graft vessels. Finally, long-term accepted grafts displayed leukocyte infiltration, endarteritis and fibrosis, which evolved toward vascular narrowing at day 100. Altogether, these data suggest that the chronic graft lesions developed in long-term graft recipients are the result of progressive humoral injury associated with a persisting indirect T helper response. These features may represent a useful model for understanding and manipulating chronic active antibody-mediated rejection in human.

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