mTOR Inhibition Suppresses Posttransplant Alloantibody Production Through Direct Inhibition of Alloprimed B Cells and Sparing of CD8+ Antibody-Suppressing T cells

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De novo alloantibodies (donor-specific antibody) contribute to antibody-mediated rejection and poor long-term graft survival. Because the development of donor-specific antibody is associated with early graft loss of cell transplants and reduced long-term survival of solid organ transplants, we hypothesized that conventional immunosuppressives, calcineurin inhibitors (CNi), and mammalian target of rapamycin inhibitors (mTORi), may not be as effective for suppression of humoral alloimmunity as for cell-mediated immunity.


Wild-type or CD8-depleted mice were transplanted with allogeneic hepatocytes. Recipients were treated with mTORi and/or CNi and serially monitored for alloantibody and graft survival. The direct effect of mTORi and CNi on alloprimed B cell function was investigated in Rag1−/− mice adoptively transferred with alloprimed IgG1+ B cells. The efficacy of mTORi and/or CNi to suppress CD8-mediated cytotoxicity of IgG1+ B cells was evaluated in in vitro and in vivo cytotoxicity assays.


Mammalian target of rapamycin inhibitors, but not CNi, reduced alloantibody production in transplant recipients, directly suppressed alloantibody production by alloprimed IgG1+ B cells and delayed graft rejection in both low and high alloantibody producers. Combination treatment with mTORi and CNi resulted in loss of the inhibitory effect observed for mTORi monotherapy in part due to CNi suppression of CD8+ T cells which downregulate alloantibody production (CD8+ TAb-supp cells).


Our data support that mTORi is a potent inhibitor of humoral immunity through suppression of alloprimed B cells and preservation of CD8+ TAb-supp cells. In contrast, alloantibody is readily detected in CNi-treated recipients because CNi does not suppress alloprimed B cells and interferes with downregulatory CD8+ TAb-supp cells.

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