The Mandible Ameliorates Facial Allograft Rejection and Is Associated with the Development of Regulatory T Cells and Mixed Chimerism

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Oct 14;22(20):11104. doi: 10.3390/ijms222011104.


Vascularized composite allografts contain various tissue components and possess relative antigenicity, eliciting different degrees of alloimmune responses. To investigate the strategies for achieving facial allograft tolerance, we established a mouse hemiface transplant model, including the skin, muscle, mandible, mucosa, and vessels. However, the immunomodulatory effects of the mandible on facial allografts remain unclear. To understand the effects of the mandible on facial allograft survival, we compared the diversities of different facial allograft-elicited alloimmunity between a facial osteomyocutaneous allograft (OMC), including skin, muscle, oral mucosa, and vessels, and especially the mandible, and a myocutaneous allograft (MC) including the skin, muscle, oral mucosa, and vessels, but not the mandible. The different facial allografts of a BALB/c donor were transplanted into a heterotopic neck defect on fully major histocompatibility complex-mismatched C57BL/6 mice. The allogeneic OMC (Allo-OMC) group exhibited significant prolongation of facial allograft survival compared to the allogeneic MC group, both in the presence and absence of FK506 immunosuppressive drugs. With the use of FK506 monotherapy (2 mg/kg) for 21 days, the allo-OMC group, including the mandible, showed prolongation of facial allograft survival of up to 65 days, whereas the myocutaneous allograft, without the mandible, only survived for 34 days. The Allo-OMC group also displayed decreased lymphocyte infiltration into the facial allograft. Both groups showed similar percentages of B cells, T cells, natural killer cells, macrophages, and dendritic cells in the blood, spleen, and lymph nodes. However, a decrease in pro-inflammatory T helper 1 cells and an increase in anti-inflammatory regulatory T cells were observed in the blood and lymph nodes of the Allo-OMC group. Significantly increased percentages of donor immune cells were also observed in three lymphoid organs of the Allo-OMC group, suggesting mixed chimerism induction. These results indicated that the mandible has the potential to induce anti-inflammatory effects and mixed chimerism for prolonging facial allograft survival. The immunomodulatory understanding of the mandible could contribute to reducing the use of immunosuppressive regimens in clinical face allotransplantation including the mandible.

Keywords: facial transplantation; mandible; mice; mixed chimerism; regulatory T cells; vascularized composite allotransplantation.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Facial Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Facial Transplantation / methods
  • Graft Rejection / etiology*
  • Graft Rejection / immunology
  • Graft Survival / physiology
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / pharmacology
  • Mandible / immunology
  • Mandible / physiology*
  • Mandible / transplantation
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Skin Transplantation / adverse effects
  • Skin Transplantation / methods
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / physiology*
  • Tacrolimus / pharmacology
  • Transplantation Chimera / physiology
  • Transplantation, Homologous


  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Tacrolimus