Mixed donor-host chimerism, established through hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT), is a reproducible strategy for the induction of tolerance toward solid organs. Here, we ask whether a nonmyeloablative conditioning regimen establishing mixed donor-host chimerism leads to tolerance of antigenic vascularized composite allografts.Methods.
Stable mixed chimerism was established in dogs given a sublethal dose (1–2 Gy) total body irradiation before and a short course of immunosuppression after dog leukocyte antigen-identical marrow transplantation. Vascularized composite allografts from marrow donors were performed after a median of 36 months (range, 4–54 months) after HCT.Results.
All marrow recipients maintained mixed donor-host hematopoietic chimerism and accepted vascularized composite allografts for periods ranging between 52 and 90 weeks; in turn, marrow donors rejected vascularized composite allografts from their respective marrow recipients within 18 to 29 days. Biopsies of muscle and skin of vascularized composite allografts from mixed chimeras showed few infiltrating cells compared with extensive infiltrates in biopsies of vascularized composite allografts from marrow donors. Elevated levels of CD3+ FoxP3+ T-regulatory cells were found in skin and muscle of vascularized composite allografts of mixed chimeras compared with normal tissues. In mixed chimeras, increased numbers of T-regulatory cells were found in draining compared with nondraining lymph nodes of vascularized composite allografts.Conclusions.
These data suggest that nonmyeloablative HCT may form the basis for future clinical applications of solid organ transplantation and that T-regulatory cells may function toward maintenance of the vascularized composite allograft.