We investigated the effect of pretransplant conditioning as a way to reduce the need for the aggressive immunosuppressive therapy reportedly required in small bowel (SB) allograft recipients. LEW rats were conditioned with (1) a donor-specific blood transfusion (DST) on day -8 and a concurrent 5-day course of CsA (10 mg/kg/day); (2) a nonspecific blood transfusion and CsA; (3) CsA alone. A 10-cm segment of the host native bowel was then replaced with an equivalent segment of SB obtained from ACI rats. Postoperative treatment consisted of CsA at 2.5 mg/kg/day for 30 days. Rats conditioned with a nonspecific transfusion and CsA or with CsA alone survived for 14.1 ± 5.8 and 18.3 ± 5.7 days, respectively. In contrast, rats conditioned with DST and CsA survived for 60.3 ± 36.2 days (P < 0.001 vs. both controls). Biopsies taken from long-term survivors showed a normal bowel architecture. The function of the allografts was studied in a group of animals totally deprived of their native bowel and transplanted with a 30-cm segment of ACI SB. CsA-DST-treated recipients survived an average of 90 ± 43 days and grew at a rate comparable to isografted animals. Treated allograft recipients had maltose absorption indistinguishable from isografted controls at all times tested. In contrast, maltose absorption was severely impaired in recipients rejecting their grafts. This study demonstrates that long-term survival of SB allograft recipients can be achieved with good functional results with low doses of CsA in recipients conditioned with DST and CsA.
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