The aim of the present study was to further investigate the characteristics of both graft-infiltrating cells and splenocytes during acute vascular rejection (AVR), cell-mediated rejection and non-rejection of vascularized concordant xenografts, by analysing both proinflammatory [interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta) and tumour necrosis factor (TNF-alpha)] and more specific [(IL-2, IL-4, IL-10, IL-12p40 and interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma)] cytokines. A parallel investigation was made of the antibody response of IgM and IgG to the xenografts.
Mouse hearts were heterotopically transplanted to the neck vessels of recipient rats. Grafts, spleens and sera were collected from untreated (AVR) and cyclosporin A (CyA) treated animals on day 2 after transplantation. Organs from rats treated with 15-deoxyspergualin (DSG) or CyA and DSG in combination were harvested on both day 2 and day 8. Grafts from DSG-treated rats undergo cell-mediated rejection and stop beating on day 9 and forth, while CyA + DSG treatment results in long-term graft survival. Real-time quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) was applied for analysis of intragraft and splenic cytokine messenger RNA (mRNA) expression. The phenotypes of the graft infiltrating cells were characterized by immunohistochemistry. The antibody response was investigated by means of immunofluorescence, haemagglutination and flow cytometry.
All the studied cytokines (IL-1beta, IL-2, IL-4, IL-10, IL-12p40, IFN-gamma and TNF-alpha) were up-regulated in the grafts from rejecting untreated (day 2) and DSG-treated animals (day 8) in comparison with grafts from CyA + DSG treated animals (day 8). On day 2 under immunosuppression with CyA, DSG or CyA + DSG no or low cytokine mRNA levels were found. The mRNA levels of IL-2, IL-4 and IFN-gamma in the spleens were suppressed under both DSG- and CyA + DSG treatment on day 8. Immunofluorescence showed deposits of both IgM and IgG in grafts from untreated, CyA-treated (day 2) and DSG-treated (day 8) animals, while CyA + DSG treatment diminished these deposits on both day 2 and day 8. No circulating antibodies were identified in either group.
We hereby conclude that both AVR on day 2 and cell-mediated rejection on day 8 (under DSG treatment) in a concordant cardiac mouse-to-rat xenotransplantation model are associated with an increase of proinflammatory cytokines, T helper 1 (Th1)-associated cytokines as well as IL-10, while immunosuppression with CyA + DSG diminishes the levels of all examined cytokines. Grafts undergoing AVR or cellular rejection are subjected to deposits of both IgM and IgG, although circulating donor specific antibodies are undetectable in serum.
2003. Vol. 10, no 4, 311-324 p.
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