Evolving Approaches in the Identification of Allograft-Reactive T and B Cells in Mice and Humans

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Whether a transplanted allograft is stably accepted, rejected, or achieves immunological tolerance is dependent on the frequency and function of alloreactive lymphocytes, making the identification and analysis of alloreactive T and B cells in transplant recipients critical for understanding mechanisms, and the prediction of allograft outcome. In animal models, tracking the fate of graft-reactive T and B cells allows investigators to uncover their biology and develop new therapeutic strategies to protect the graft. In the clinic, identification and quantification of graft-reactive T and B cells allows for the early diagnosis of immune reactivity and therapeutic intervention to prevent graft loss. In addition to rejection, probing of T and B cell fate in vivo provides insights into the underlying mechanisms of alloimmunity or tolerance that may lead to biomarkers predicting graft fate. In this review, we discuss existing and developing approaches to track and analyze alloreactive T and B cells in mice and humans and provide examples of discoveries made utilizing these techniques. These approaches include mixed lymphocyte reactions, trans-vivo delayed-type hypersensitivity, enzyme-linked immunospot assays, the use of antigen receptor transgenic lymphocytes, and utilization of peptide-major histocompatibility multimers, along with imaging techniques for static multiparameter analysis or dynamic in vivo tracking. Such approaches have already refined our understanding of the alloimmune response and are pointing to new ways to improve allograft outcomes in the clinic.

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