Preemptive CD20+ B cell Depletion Attenuates Cardiac Allograft Vasculopathy in CD154-Treated Monkeys

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Anti-CD154 monotherapy is associated with antidonor allo-antibody (Ab) elaboration, cardiac allograft vasculopathy (CAV), and allograft failure in preclinical primate cell and organ transplant models. In the context of calcineurin inhibitors (CNI), these pathogenic phenomena are delayed by preemptive “induction” B cell depletion.


αCD154 (IDEC-131)–treated cynomolgus monkey heart allograft recipients were given peritransplant rituximab (αCD20) alone or with rabbit antihuman thymocyte globulin.


Relative to previously reported reference groups, αCD20 significantly prolonged survival, delayed Ab detection, and attenuated CAV within 3 months in αCD154-treated recipients (αCD154 + αCD20 graft median survival time > 90 days, n = 7, vs 28 days for αCD154 alone (IDEC-131), n = 21; P = 0.05). Addition of rabbit antihuman thymocyte globulin to αCD154 (n = 6) or αCD154 + αCD20 (n = 10) improved graft protection from graft rejection and failure during treatment but was associated with significant morbidity in 8 of 16 recipients (6 infections, 2 drug-related complications). In αCD20-treated animals, detection of antidonor Ab and relatively severe CAV were anticipated by appearance of CD20+ cells (>1% of lymphocytes) in peripheral blood and were associated with low αCD154 trough levels (below 100 μg/mL).


These observations support the hypothesis that efficient preemptive “induction” CD20 B cell depletion consistently modulates pathogenic alloimmunity and attenuates CAV in this translational model, extending our prior findings with calcineurin inhibitors to the context of CD154 blockade.

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