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Impact of Graft-Resident Leucocytes on Treg Mediated Skin Graft Survival


The importance and exact role of graft-resident leucocytes (also referred to as passenger leucocytes) in transplantation is controversial as these cells have been reported to either initiate or retard graft rejection. T cell activation to allografts is mediated via recognition of intact or processed donor MHC molecules on antigen-presenting cells (APC) as well as through interaction with donor-derived extracellular vesicles. Reduction of graft-resident leucocytes before transplantation is a well-known approach for prolonging organ survival without interfering with the recipient's immune system. As previously shown by our group, injecting mice with IL-2/anti-IL-2 complexes (IL-2cplx) to augment expansion of CD4 T regulatory cells (Tregs) induces tolerance towards islet allografts, and also to skin allografts when IL-2cplx treatment is supplemented with rapamycin and a short-term treatment of anti-IL-6. In this study, we investigated the mechanisms by which graft-resident leucocytes impact graft survival by studying the combined effects of IL-2cplx-mediated Treg expansion and passenger leucocyte depletion. For the latter, effective depletion of APC and T cells within the graft was induced by prior total body irradiation (TBI) of the graft donor. Surprisingly, substantial depletion of donor-derived leucocytes by TBI did not prolong graft survival in naive mice, although it did result in augmented recipient leucocyte graft infiltration, presumably through irradiation-induced nonspecific inflammation. Notably, treatment with the IL-2cplx protocol prevented early inflammation of irradiated grafts, which correlated with an influx of Tregs into the grafts. This finding suggested there might be a synergistic effect of Treg expansion and graft-resident leucocyte depletion. In support of this idea, significant prolongation of skin graft survival was achieved if we combined graft-resident leucocyte depletion with the IL-2cplx protocol; this finding correlated along with a progressive shift in the composition of T cells subsets in the grafts towards a more tolerogenic environment. Donor-specific humoral responses remained unchanged, indicating minor importance of graft-resident leucocytes in anti-donor antibody development. These results demonstrate the importance of donor-derived leucocytes as well as Tregs in allograft survival, which might give rise to new clinical approaches.

Type Journal
ISBN 1664-3224 (Electronic) 1664-3224 (Linking)
Authors Steiner, R.; Weijler, A. M.; Wekerle, T.; Sprent, J.; Pilat, N.
Responsible Garvan Author Prof Jonathan Sprent
Publisher Name Frontiers in Immunology
Published Date 2021-11-30
Published Volume 12
Published Pages 801595
Status Published in-print
DOI 10.3389/fimmu.2021.801595
URL link to publisher's version