PATTERNS OF IMMUNE RESPONSES EVOKED BY ALLOGENEIC HEPATOCYTES: Evidence for Independent Co-Dominant roles for CD4+ and CD8+ T-Cell Responses in Acute Rejection1,2

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Introduction.This is the first in a series of reports that characterizes immune responses evoked by allogeneic hepatocytes using a functional model of hepatocyte transplantation in mice.Methods."Donor" hepatocytes expressing the transgene human alpha-1-antitrypsin (hA1AT-FVB/N, H2q) were transplanted into C57BL/6 (H2b) or MHC II knockout (H2b) hosts treated with anti-CD4, anti-CD8, or a combination of anti-CD4 and anti-CD8 monoclonal antibodies (mAbs). Hepatocyte rejection was determined as a loss of circulating ELISA-detectable transgene product (hA1AT). In addition, some C57BL/6 mice underwent transplantation with FVB/N heterotopic cardiac allografts and were treated with anti-CD4 mAb. Cardiac allograft rejection was determined by palpation. Graft recipients were tested for donor-reactive alloantibodies and donor-reactive delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) responses.Results.The median survival time (MST) of allogeneic hepatocytes in normal C57BL/6 mice was 10 days (no treatment), 10 days (anti-CD4 mAb), 14 days (anti-CD8 mAb), and 35 days (anti-CD4 and anti-CD8 mAbs). The MST of hepatocytes in B6 MHC class II knockout mice was 10 days (no treatment) and 21 days (anti-CD8 mAb). The MST of cardiac allografts was 11 days (no treatment) and >100 days (anti-CD4 mAb). Donor-reactive DTH responses were readily detected in both untreated and mAb-treated recipients. Donor-reactive alloantibody was barely detectable in untreated hosts.Conclusions.These studies demonstrate that allogeneic hepatocytes are highly immunogenic and stimulate strong cell-mediated immune responses by both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, even when treated with agents that can cause acceptance of cardiac allografts. Indeed, CD4+ or CD8+ T cells seem to independently cause hepatocellular allograft rejection. Allogeneic hepatocytes evoked strong donor-reactive DTH responses but were poor stimuli for donor-reactive antibody production. This is an unusual pattern of immune reactivity in allograft recipients.

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