Background. We have previously described a mixed chimerism protocol that avoids myelosuppressive conditioning and permits hematopoietic cell transplantation across MHC barriers without the need for whole body irradiation in miniature swine. Here, we report our current experience including animals conditioned without thymic irradiation, and we attempt to define the relationship between long-term chimerism and stable tolerance in these animals. Methods. Recipient swine received in vivo T-cell depletion, with or without thymic irradiation on day -2. Cyclosporine was administered for 30 to 60 days beginning on day -1. A total of 1 to 2 × 1010/kg cytokine-mobilized donor hematopoietic cells were infused during 3 days. Chimerism was determined by flow cytometry. In vitro tolerance assays and donormatched kidney transplantation were performed after cessation of cyclosporine. Results. Most recipients maintained stable chimerism (26 of 35) and were specifically tolerant to donor-matched cells in vitro regardless of whether they received thymic irradiation. Donor-matched kidney transplantations performed in chimeric animals without in vitro antidonor immune responses were accepted without immunosuppression. Some animals developed in vitro evidence of antidonor MHC responsiveness despite the persistence of donor cells in the peripheral blood. Donor-matched kidney transplantations performed in the face of these responses were rejected. Conclusions. These data indicate that this nonmyelosuppressive protocol can induce stable chimerism and robust tolerance even in animals conditioned without thymic irradiation. However, the data also demonstrate that macrochimerism does not always correlate with tolerance. Lack of in vitro antidonor immune responses in chimeric animals is an important predictor of renal allograft acceptance in this model.
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