Stromal cell-based immunotherapy in transplantation

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Organs are composed of parenchymal cells that characterize organ function and nonparenchymal cells that are composed of cells in transit, as well as tissue connective tissue, also referred to as tissue stromal cells. It was originally thought that these tissue stromal cells provided only structural and functional support for parenchymal cells and were relatively inert. However, we have come to realize that tissue stromal cells, not restricted to in the thymus and lymphoid organs, also play an active role in modulating the immune system and its response to antigens. The recognition of these elements and the elucidation of their mechanisms of action have provided valuable insight into peripheral immune regulation. Extrapolation of these principles may allow us to utilize their potential for clinical application. In this article, we will summarize a number of tissue stromal elements/cell types that have been shown to induce hyporesponsiveness to transplants. We will also discuss the mechanisms by which these stromal cells create a tolerogenic environment, which in turn results in long-term allograft survival.

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