Sirolimus Increases T-Cell Abundance in the Sun Exposed Skin of Kidney Transplant Recipients

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Abstract

Background

Kidney transplant recipients (KTRs) receiving the mammalian target of rapamycin inhibitor sirolimus may display a reduced risk of skin cancer development compared to KTRs receiving calcineurin inhibitors. Despite studies investigating the effects of these 2 drug classes on T cells in patient blood, the effect these drugs may have in patient skin is not yet known.

Methods

Fifteen patients with chronic kidney disease (not recipients of immunosuppressive drugs), and 30 KTRs (15 receiving a calcineurin inhibitor, and 15 receiving sirolimus) provided matched samples of blood, sun exposed (SE) and non-SE skin. The abundance of total CD8+ and CD4+ T cells, memory CD8+ and CD4+ T cells, and regulatory T (Treg) cells in each sample was then assessed by flow cytometry.

Results

Sirolimus treatment significantly increased absolute numbers of CD4+ T cells, memory CD8+- and CD4+ T cells, and Treg cells in SE skin versus paired samples of non-SE skin. No differences were found in the absolute number of any T cell subset in the blood. Correlation analysis revealed that the percentage of T cell subsets in the blood does not always accurately reflect the percentage of T-cell subsets in the skin of KTRs. Furthermore, sirolimus significantly disrupts the balance of memory CD4+ T cells in the skin after chronic sun exposure.

Conclusions

This study demonstrated that immunosuppressive drug class and sun exposure modify the abundance of multiple T-cell subsets in the skin of KTRs. Correlation analysis revealed that the prevalence of Treg cells in KTR blood does not accurately reflect the prevalence of Treg cells in KTR skin.

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