BACKGROUND. Posttransplant total lymphoid irradiation (TLI) treatment has been applied to tolerance induction protocols in heart and kidney transplantation models. METHODS. We examined the efficacy and mechanism of posttransplant TLI treatment in the induction and maintenance of tolerance in a rat orthotopic liver transplantation model. RESULTS. Posttransplant TLI prolonged ACI (RT1) liver allograft survival in Lewis (RT1) hosts, with 50% long-term engraftment without immunosuppression and without evidence of chronic rejection. Injection of donor-type liver mononuclear cells (LMCs) facilitated the prolongation of graft survival, with more than 70% of grafts in LMC recipients surviving more than 100 days without chronic rejection. Recipients with long-term liver allograft survival accepted ACI but not PVG skin grafts. In TLI-conditioned recipients with accepted grafts, apoptosis occurred predominantly in graft-infiltrating leukocytes. In contrast, there were few apoptotic leukocytes in rejecting grafts. Recipients with long-term graft acceptance (>100 days of survival) demonstrated evidence of immune deviation; mixed lymphocyte reaction to ACI stimulator cells was vigorous, but secretion of interferon-γ and interleukin-2 was reduced. In tolerant recipients, the number of Foxp3 CD25 CD4 regulatory T cells was increased in the liver allograft as well as in the peripheral blood. CONCLUSION. We conclude that posttransplant TLI induces tolerance to liver allografts via a mechanism involving apoptotic cell-deletion and immunoregulation.
- CD25 cD4 T cell
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