The Inflammatory Cytokine IL-21 is Expressed by Splenic Neutrophils in Response to Transplantation of Allogeneic Cells

SOJ Immunol. 2016;4(1):1-9. doi: 10.15226/2372-0948/4/1/00144.


We have previously reported that GR-1 neutrophil/monocytes rose dramatically in the spleen, peaked by day 7 and declined through day 14. This period corresponded to the peak of acute Graft-Versus-Host Disease (aGVHD) in BALB/c mice transplanted with allogeneic donor cells. We now asked: what cytokines did these splenic neutrophil/monocytes express on day 7 and 14 post transplant? BALB/c mice were transplanted with allogeneic B6 or syngeneic BALB/c donor cells. Long term survival was recorded through day 31. Other groups were sacrificed on days 3, 5, 7, 14, 21 and 31 days post transplant to record the total number of cells in the spleens and their phenotypes. Neutrophils were isolated from the spleens of mice transplanted with B6 and BALB/c cells on days 7 and 14. Daily body weight demonstrated a transient drop in the syngeneic transplants on day 2 but a much greater drop with its nadir at day 7 and never fully recovering through 31 days. CD8/CD4 T lymphocytes peaked in the spleen on day 5 and were followed on day 7 by GR-I cells in all of the allogeneic transplants. In syngeneic transplants this early rise in lymphocytes did not occur and GR-1 cells peaked on day 14. Highly purified neutrophils were isolated in two separate experiments from the spleens on days 7 and 14 post transplant. In both experiments day 7 allogeneic neutrophils expressed significantly elevated levels of Interleukin-21 (IL-21) mRNA whereas the day 7 and 14 syngeneic cells expressed lower but significant levels of TNFα. Intracellular IL-21 was demonstrated in the allogeneic neutrophils on day 7 before and after in vitro stimulation. In conclusion Purified neutrophils isolated from the spleen on day 7, the early peak of allogeneic transplantation a GVHD, express high levels of IL-21 message and intracellular IL-21.

Keywords: Allogeneic neutrophils; Graft-versus-host disease; IL-21; Transplantation.