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Introduction.The purpose of the current study was to investigate the capacity of CD4+, CD8+, or non-T cells to independently initiate acute rejection of allogeneic hepatocytes using reconstituted SCID, CD4 or CD8 knockout (KO) recipient mice.Methods.Allogeneic hepatocytes (FVB/N, H-2q) were transplanted into C57BL/6.SCID (H-2b), CD4 KO (H-2b), CD8 KO (H-2b), or beige/beige (H-2b) mice. SCID mice with functioning hepatocellular allografts subsequently received purified non-T cells (NTC), CD4+, or CD8+ splenocytes. Some mice were treated with anti-CD4, anti-CD8, and/or anti-nk1.1 mAb. Recipient mice were also assessed for donor-reactive delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) responses and donor-reactive alloantibody production.Results.Median hepatocellular allograft survival time (MST) was 28 days in CD4+ reconstituted SCID mice and 14 days in CD8+ reconstituted SCID mice. SCID hosts reconstituted with NTC demonstrated indefinite hepatocellular allograft survival (>120 days). MST was 10 days in untreated beige/beige (NK cell deficient) mice. MST was 14 days in untreated, 35 days in anti-CD4 mAb treated, and 10 days in anti-nk1.1 mAb treated CD8 KO mice. MST was 10 days in untreated, 35 days in anti-CD8 mAb treated, and 7 days in anti-nk1.1 mAb treated CD4 KO mice. Donor-reactive DTH responses were not detected in reconstituted SCID mice, were minimal in CD4 KO mice, and were prominent in CD8 KO mice after rejection of allogeneic hepatocytes. Similarly, donor-reactive alloantibody, was not detected in CD4 KO hosts, but was readily detected in CD8 KO hosts.Conclusions.These studies show that both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells (but not host NTC) can independently initiate the rejection of allogeneic hepatocytes. While hepatocyte rejection by isolated CD4+ T cells is not surprising, rejection by CD8+ T cells (in the absence of CD4+ T cells) was unusual, and may explain the failure of “standard” immunosuppressive regimens to suppress acute rejection of allogeneic hepatocytes, as noted in prior studies. Furthermore, NK cells do not appear to be required for either CD4+ T cell or CD8+ T cell initiated hepatocyte rejection.

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