Allorecognition Pathways in Transplant Rejection and Tolerance

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Abstract

With the advent of cellular therapies, it has become clear that the success of future therapies in prolonging allograft survival will require an intimate understanding of the allorecognition pathways and effector mechanisms that are responsible for chronic rejection and late graft loss.

Here, we consider current understanding of T-cell allorecognition pathways and discuss the most likely mechanisms by which these pathways collaborate with other effector mechanisms to cause allograft rejection. We also consider how this knowledge may inform development of future strategies to prevent allograft rejection.

Although both direct and indirect pathway CD4 T cells appear active immediately after transplantation, it has emerged that indirect pathway CD4 T cells are likely to be the dominant alloreactive T-cell population late after transplantation. Their ability to provide help for generating long-lived alloantibody is likely one of the main mechanisms responsible for the progression of allograft vasculopathy and chronic rejection.

Recent work has suggested that regulatory T cells may be an effective cellular therapy in transplantation. Given the above, adoptive therapy with CD4 regulatory T cells with indirect allospecificity is a rational first choice in attempting to attenuate the development and progression of chronic rejection; those with additional properties that enable inhibition of germinal center alloantibody responses hold particular appeal.

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