Role of T cells in graft rejection and transplantation tolerance

Expert Rev Clin Immunol. 2010 Jan;6(1):155-69. doi: 10.1586/eci.09.64.


Transplantation is the most effective treatment for end-stage organ failure, but organ survival is limited by immune rejection and the side effects of immunosuppressive regimens. T cells are central to the process of transplant rejection through allorecognition of foreign antigens leading to their activation, and the orchestration of an effector response that results in organ damage. Long-term transplant acceptance in the absence of immunosuppressive therapy remains the ultimate goal in the field of transplantation and many studies are exploring potential therapies. One promising cellular therapy is the use of regulatory T cells to induce a state of donor-specific tolerance to the transplant. This article first discusses the role of T cells in transplant rejection, with a focus on the mechanisms of allorecognition and the alloresponse. This is followed by a detailed review of the current progress in the field of regulatory T-cell therapy in transplantation and the translation of this therapy to the clinical setting.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Graft Rejection / immunology*
  • Graft Rejection / prevention & control
  • Graft Survival* / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Lymphocyte Transfusion
  • Organ Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / drug effects
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / transplantation
  • Time Factors
  • Transplantation Tolerance* / drug effects
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Immunosuppressive Agents