Transplantation tolerance in nonhuman primates and humans

Bone Marrow Transplant. 2019 Aug;54(Suppl 2):815-821. doi: 10.1038/s41409-019-0620-3.


This review focuses on our recent studies involving nonmyeloablative bone marrow transplantation as an approach to inducing organ allograft tolerance across MHC barriers in nonhuman primates and in patients. The clinical studies are focused on mechanisms of tolerance involved in a protocol carried out at Massachusetts General Hospital in HLA-mismatched haploidentical combinations for the induction of renal allograft tolerance. These studies, in which chimerism was only transient and GVHD did not occur, suggest an early role for donor-specific regulatory T cells in tolerance induction, followed by partial and gradual deletion of donor-reactive T cells. We utilized high-throughput sequencing methodologies in a novel way to identify and track large numbers of alloreactive T cell receptors (TCRs). This method has been shown to identify biologically significant alloreactive TCRs in transplant patients and pointed to clonal deletion as a major mechanism of long-term tolerance in these patients. More recently, we adapted this sequencing method to optimally identify the donor-specific regulatory T cell (Treg) repertoire. Interrogation of the early posttransplant repertoire demonstrated expansion of donor-specific Tregs in association with tolerance. Our studies suggest a role for the kidney graft in tolerance by these mechanisms in patients who had only transient chimerism. Nonhuman primate studies indicate that other organs, including the heart, the lungs and the liver, are less readily tolerated following a period of transient mixed chimerism. Our efforts to extend the reach of mixed chimerism for tolerance induction beyond the kidney are therefore focused on the addition of recipient Tregs to the protocol. This approach has the potential to enhance chimerism while further reducing the risk of GVHD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Primates
  • Transplantation Tolerance / physiology*