Background: The influence of donor-side regulation toward recipient antigens on graft outcome is poorly understood.
Methods: Because this influence might be due in part to the accumulation of tissue-resident memory T cells in the donor organ, we used a standard murine tolerization model (donor-specific transfusion plus CD40L blockade) to determine the kinetics of development and peripheralization of allospecific regulatory T cell in lymphoid tissues and liver, a secondary lymphoid organ used in transplantation.
Results: We found that donor-specific transfusion and CD40L blockade leads to a progressive and sustained T regulatory allospecific response. The cytokines IL10, TGFβ, and IL35 all contributed to the regulatory phenomenon as determined by trans vivo delayed hypersensitivity assay. Unexpectedly, an early and transient self-specific regulatory response was found as well. Using double reporter mice (forkhead box p 3 [Foxp3]-yellow fluorescent protein, Epstein-Barr virus-induced gene 3 [Ebi3]-TdTomRed), we found an increase in Foxp3+CD25+ regulatory T (Treg) cells paralleling the regulatory response. The Ebi3+ CD4 T cells (IL35-producing) were mainly classic Treg cells (Foxp3+CD25+), whereas TGFβ+ CD4 T cells are mostly Foxp3-negative, suggesting 2 different CD4 Treg cell subsets. Liver-resident TGFβ+ CD4 T cells appeared more rapidly than Ebi3-producing T cells, whereas at later timepoints, the Ebi3 response predominated both in lymphoid tissues and liver.
Conclusions: The timing of appearance of donor organ resident Treg cell subsets should be considered in experiments testing the role of bidirectional regulation in transplant tolerance.