Tolerance Induction in Composite Facial Allograft Transplantation in the Rat Model

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Abstract

Clinical application of composite tissue allograft transplants opened discussion on the restoration of facial deformities by allotransplantation. The authors introduce a hemifacial allograft transplant model to investigate the rationale for the development of functional tolerance across the major histocompatibility complex barrier. Eighteen rats in three groups were studied. The composite hemifacial allotransplantations including the ear and scalp were performed between Lewis-Brown Norway (RT1l+n) and Lewis (RT1l) rats and isotransplantations were performed between Lewis rats. Isograft controls (n = 6) and allograft controls (n = 6) did not receive treatment. Allografts in treatment group (n = 6) were treated with cyclosporine A 16 mg/kg/day during the first week; this dose was tapered to 2 mg/kg/day over 4 weeks and maintained at this level thereafter. Functional tolerance to face allografts was evaluated clinically and histologically. Donor-specific chimerism was assessed at days 21 and 63 by flow cytometry. In vitro evaluation of donor-specific tolerance was performed by mixed lymphocyte reaction at day 160 after transplantation. Isograft controls survived indefinitely. All nontreated allografts were rejected within 5 to 7 days after transplantation, as confirmed by histopathologic analysis. Five of six face allografts under the cyclosporine A protocol showed no signs of rejection for up to 240 days and remained alive and under evaluation, whereas one animal showed signs of rejection at day 140. This was reversed by adjustment of the cyclosporine A dose. At day 21 after transplantation, flow cytometric analysis of the donor-specific chimerism showed 1.11 percent of double-positive CD4FITC/RT1Ac-Cy7 and 1.43 percent of double-positive CD8PE/RT1Ac-Cy7 T-cell populations in the peripheral blood of hemiface allotransplant recipients. The chimerism level of double-positive CD4FITC/RT1Ac-Cy7 T cells increased to 3.39 percent, whereas it remained stable for the double-positive CD8PE/RT1Ac-Cy7 T-cell population at day 63 after transplantation (1.00 percent). The mixed lymphocyte reaction assay at day 160 after transplantation revealed donor-specific tolerance to donor (Lewis-Brown Norway) antigens and strong reactivity to the third-party (ACI) alloantigens. In this study, donor-specific chimerism and functional tolerance were induced in hemifacial allograft transplants across the major histocompatibility complex barrier under cyclosporine A monotherapy protocol. This model will allow further studies on tolerance induction protocols.

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