Thrombin may modulate dendritic cell activation in kidney transplant recipients with delayed graft function

Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2015 Sep;30(9):1480-7. doi: 10.1093/ndt/gfv129. Epub 2015 Jun 7.


Background: Coagulation and complement activation represent key events in ischaemia-reperfusion-induced renal injury leading to delayed graft function (DGF). It is still unclear whether the coagulation cascade may also influence the acquired immunity. The aim of the present study was to investigate the expression of protease-activated receptor 1 (PAR-1), the main thrombin receptor, by graft-infiltrating dendritic cells (DCs), and to evaluate whether thrombin may influence DCs complement production and T-cell response.

Methods: PAR-1, BDCA1, CD11c, BDCA4, fibrin, C3c and C3d protein expression were evaluated by confocal microscopy. Cultured DCs were obtained incubating monocytes (Ms) with IL-4 and GM-CSF. DC maturation was obtained with IFN-g+sCD40L or with a cytokine cocktail (IL-1b, TNF-a, PGE2, IL-6). PAR1 protein expression on cultured DC was evaluated by flow-cytometry. Complement receptors, C3, IL12/IL17p40 and IL10 gene expression was evaluated by qPCR. T cell phenotype was evaluated by ELISPOT. IFN-g protein presence was evaluated by ELISA.

Results: PAR-1 was expressed by infiltrating myeloid DCs in pre-transplant and in DGF biopsies. In DGF grafts, myeloid DCs localized within fibrin and C3d deposits and expressed C3c. In vitro, PAR-1 protein expression was increased in monocyte-derived immature DCs and in cytokine-induced mature DCs compared to monocytes. PAR-1 activation caused a time-dependent increase in C3 and complement receptors expression. Moreover, thrombin stimulation, while reducing interleukin-10 mRNA abundance, induced interleukin-12/IL-17 p40 gene expression, and promoted C3a ability to increase interleukin-12/IL17 mRNA abundance. These changes in the DCs' cytokine pattern influenced their ability to induce interferon-g production by T cells, suggesting the activation of a T helper-1 bias.

Conclusion: Our data suggest that PAR-1 is expressed by DCs in DGF grafts and its activation may induce complement production and a Th1 bias. This observation suggests a potential pathogenic link between DGF and acquired allo-response leading to graft damage.

Keywords: T cells; complement; delayed graft function; dendritic cells; ischaemia–reperfusion; thrombin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Delayed Graft Function / drug therapy
  • Delayed Graft Function / immunology*
  • Delayed Graft Function / pathology
  • Dendritic Cells / drug effects
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology*
  • Dendritic Cells / pathology
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Hemostatics / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Kidney Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Kidney Tubules, Proximal / drug effects
  • Kidney Tubules, Proximal / immunology*
  • Kidney Tubules, Proximal / pathology
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • T-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / pathology
  • Thrombin / pharmacology*


  • Cytokines
  • Hemostatics
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Thrombin