Background: Previous studies showed that an intravenous infusion of donor blood cells facilitates tolerance to ACI heart allografts in Lewis rat hosts given posttransplant total lymphoid irradiation (TLI) and anti-thymocyte globulin (ATG). The object of the current study was to compare tolerance induction using donor cells that do or do not induce chimerism.
Methods: Normal peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC), granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF)-mobilized PBMC, and bone marrow (BM) cells from ACI donors were tested for their capacity to prolong ACI heart allograft survival in Lewis hosts. Chimerism, anti-donor cell reactivity, and cytokine gene expression in grafts were determined.
Results: Intravenous injections of equal numbers of all three donor cells markedly prolonged graft survival (median: >164 to >175 days) as compared to uninjected controls (median: 53 days). Chimerism among T and B cells in the blood was determined by immunofluorescent staining in hosts bearing long-term (> 150 days) grafts. Although no chimerism was detected in hosts given normal or G-CSF-mobilized PBMC, chimerism was detected at variable levels in all hosts given BM cells. Vigorous anti-donor reactivity in the mixed leukocyte reaction was present only in non-chimeric hosts. Long-term grafts from hosts given normal ACI PBMC developed chronic rejection, but those from hosts given ACI BM cells did not. The latter hosts showed the lowest levels of intragraft cytokine mRNA.
Conclusions: Chimeric tolerance is more robust than non-chimeric tolerance in the model of posttransplant TLI, ATG, and donor cell infusion, and is associated with less chronic rejection.