We aimed to determine the role of cytomegalovirus (CMV)-infected donor cells in the development of a CMV-specific immune response in kidney transplant recipients. We assessed the CMV pp65-specific immune response by using interferon-ɣ ELISPOT and dextramers in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 115 recipients (D+R- 31, D+R + 44, D-R + 40) late after transplantation (mean 59 ± 42 months). Receiving a kidney from a D+ donor resulted in a higher number of IFN-ɣ-producing anti-CMV T cells (P = .004). This effect disappeared with the absence of shared HLA class I specificities between donors and recipients (P = .430). To confirm the role of donor cells in stimulating the expansion of newly developed CMV-specific CD8+ T cells after transplantation, we compared the number of HLA-A2-restricted CMV-specific CD8+ T cells in primo-infected recipients who received an HLA-A2 or non-HLA-A2 graft. The median of anti-CMV pp65 T cells restricted by HLA-A2 was very low for patients who received a non-HLA-A2 graft vs an HLA-A2 graft (300 [0-14638] vs. 17972 [222-85594] anti-CMV pp65 CD8+ T cells/million CD8+ T cells, P = .001). This adds new evidence that CMV-infected kidney donor cells present CMV peptides and drive an inflation of memory CMV-specific CD8+ T cells, likely because of frequent CMV replications within the graft.
Keywords: antigen presentation/recognition; basic (laboratory) research/science; complication: infectious; infection and infectious agents - viral: Cytomegalovirus (CMV); infectious disease; kidney transplantation/nephrology; translational research/science.
© 2018 The American Society of Transplantation and the American Society of Transplant Surgeons.