Background: Dendritic cells (DCs) are crucial regulators of immunity and important in inducing and maintaining tolerance. Here, we investigated the potential of a novel DC-immunomodulating agent, soluble CD83 (sCD83), in inducing transplant tolerance.
Methods: We used the C3H-to-C57BL/6 mouse cardiac transplantation model that exhibits a combination of severe cell-mediated rejection and moderate antibody-mediated rejection and investigated whether sCD83 could augment a combination therapy consisting of Rapamycin (Rapa) and anti-CD45RB monoclonal antibody (α-CD45) to prolong allograft survival.
Results: Monotherapies consisting of Rapa and α-CD45 were incapable of preventing rejection. However, all treatments involving sCD83 were capable of (1) down-modulating expression of various DC surface molecules, such as major histocompatibility complex class II and costimulatory molecules, (2) reducing the allogeneic stimulatory capacity of the DCs, and (3) significantly inhibiting antidonor antibody responses. Most striking results were observed in the triple therapy-treated group, sCD83Rapaα-CD45, where cell-mediated rejection and antibody-mediated rejection were abrogated for over 100 days. Donor-specific tolerance was achieved in long-term surviving recipients, because donor skin transplants were readily accepted for an additional 100 days, whereas third-party skin grafts were rejected. Success of triple therapy treatment was accompanied by enhancement of tolerogenic-DCs that conferred antigen-specific protection on adoptive transfer to recipients of an allogeneic heart graft.
Conclusions: Our study revealed that sCD83 is capable of attenuating DC maturation and function, and inducing donor-specific allograft tolerance, in the absence of toxicity. Thus, sCD83 seems to be a safe and valuable counterpart to current DC-modulating agents.