Background: Initially developed for histocompatibility testing, the normal lymphocyte transfer (NLT) reaction involves the intradermal injection of allogeneic lymphocytes from one individual to another. Because of the unique kinetics of the immunological response to allogeneic lymphocytes, the NLT reaction has been considered an informative system for the analysis of transplant immunity.
Methods: In this study, we used bilateral efferent lymph duct cannulations in sheep to examine the regional lymphatic response to the NLT reaction. Our studies used monoclonal antibodies to define lymphocyte population dynamics and DNA flow cytometry to reflect lymphocyte proliferative responses.
Results: The results confirmed a biphasic NLT reaction. An unexpected finding was the marked differences between the early and late NLT responses. The early response was characterized by T-lymphocyte proliferation, as reflected by S-phase DNA, which was comparable in both the NLT-stimulated and contralateral control efferent lymphocytes. This bilateral proliferative response was observed in both CD4+ and CD8+ lymphocytes. In contrast, the late response was restricted to the efferent lymph from the NLT-stimulated lymph node. Dual-parameter flow cytometry demonstrated that the dominant component of this unilateral NLT response was CD8+ lymphocytes.
Conclusions: These results suggest important functional distinctions between systemic and regional lymphatic responses to intradermal alloantigens.