Both infiltrating regulatory T cells and insufficient antigen presentation are involved in long-term cardiac xenograft survival

Wenhao Chen, Jun Diao, Stanislaw M. Stepkowski, Li Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


We have previously shown that pretransplant donor lymphocyte infusion (DLI) together with transient depletion of CD4+ T cells could induce permanent rat-to-mouse heart graft survival, whereas depleting CD4+ T cells alone failed to do so. In this study, we investigated the mechanism leading to long-term xenograft survival. We found that peripheral CD4 + T cells from DLI/anti-CD4-treated mice could mount rat heart graft rejection after adoptive transfer into B6 CD4-/- mice. Infusing donor-Ag-loaded mature dendritic cells (DCs) could break long-term cardiac xenograft survival in DLI/anti-CD4-treated mice. Interestingly, when the number and phenotype of graft-infiltrating cells were compared between anti-CD4- and DLI/anti-CD4-treated groups, we observed a significant increase in both the number and suppressive activity of αβ-TCR+CD3 +CD4-CD8- double negative regulatory T cells and decrease in the numbers of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in the xenografts of DLI/anti-CD4-treated mice. Moreover, there was a significant reduction in MHC class II-high DCs within the xenografts of DLI/anti-CD4-treated recipients. DCs isolated from the xenografts of anti-CD4- but not DLI/anti-CD4-treated recipients could stimulate CD4+ T cell proliferation. Our data indicate that functional anti-donor T cells are present in the secondary lymphoid organs of the mice that permanently accepted cardiac xenografts. Their failure to reject xenografts is associated with an increase in double negative regulatory T cells as well as a reduction in Ag stimulation by DCs found within grafts. These findings suggest that local regulatory mechanisms need to be taken into account to control anti-xenograft T cell responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1542-1548
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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