Differential expression of chemokines and chemokine receptors shapes the inflammatory response in rejecting human liver transplants

Transplantation. 2001 Dec 27;72(12):1957-67. doi: 10.1097/00007890-200112270-00016.


Background: Graft rejection after liver transplantation is associated with a lymphocytic infiltrate, the nature of which will be determined by, among various factors, the local activity of chemokines that attract particular subsets of effector cells to the graft.

Methods: The expression of chemokines and receptors in human liver allografts was studied by immunohistochemistry of tissue and flow cytometry of blood and liver-derived lymphocytes. Receptor function was assessed with in vitro chemotaxis.

Results: We report increased expression of chemokine receptors CXCR3, CXCR4, and CCR5 on circulating and graft-infiltrating lymphocytes after liver transplantation. Liver-derived T cells responded to the ligands for these receptors in vitro, which suggests that the receptors are functionally active. The chemokine ligands for these receptors were detected in rejecting allografts. CXCR3 ligands interferon-inducible protein 10 and monokine-induced by gamma interferon were detected on sinusoidal endothelium and interferon-inducible T-cell alpha chemoattractant was detected on portal and hepatic vascular endothelium, whereas the CXCR4 ligand, stromal-derived factor (SDF), was restricted to biliary epithelium. CCR5 ligands have previously been shown on portal endothelium. An in vitro model of T-cell alloactivation demonstrated a similar pattern of expression of functional CXCR3, CXCR4, and CCR5 on T cells. Increased expression of chemokine receptors, especially CCR3 and CCR5, was associated with redistribution of activated Kupffer cells in rejecting grafts.

Conclusions: The patterns of chemokine expression in liver allografts during rejection suggest that the recruitment and positioning of lymphocytes is mediated by specific chemokines. Although ligands for the receptors CXCR3 and CCR5 are important for recruitment, the restriction of SDF to bile ducts suggests that CXCR4 may be involved in the retention of alloactivated lymphocytes at sites of graft damage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chemokine CXCL10 / metabolism
  • Chemokine CXCL12
  • Chemokines / metabolism*
  • Chemokines, CXC / metabolism
  • Graft Rejection / complications*
  • Graft Rejection / metabolism
  • Graft Rejection / pathology
  • Hepatitis / etiology*
  • Hepatitis / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Interferon-alpha / metabolism
  • Kupffer Cells / metabolism
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Transplantation*
  • Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Lymphocytes / pathology
  • Postoperative Period
  • Receptors, CXCR3
  • Receptors, CXCR4 / metabolism
  • Receptors, CXCR5
  • Receptors, Chemokine / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Cytokine / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism


  • CXCL12 protein, human
  • CXCR3 protein, human
  • CXCR5 protein, human
  • Chemokine CXCL10
  • Chemokine CXCL12
  • Chemokines
  • Chemokines, CXC
  • Interferon-alpha
  • Receptors, CXCR3
  • Receptors, CXCR4
  • Receptors, CXCR5
  • Receptors, Chemokine
  • Receptors, Cytokine