T follicular helper and memory cell responses and the mTOR pathway in murine heart transplantation

Aini Xie, Hui Yan, Jinfei Fu, Adam He, Xiang Xiao, Xian C. Li, Wenhao Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitors are valuable immunosuppressants in clinical transplantation; however, the mTOR regulation of allogeneic T-cell responses is not fully understood yet. Therefore, the objective of this study is to investigate the effects of T-cell-specific mTOR deletion on the allogeneic T-cell responses and heart transplant survival. METHODS: BALB/c heart allografts, with or without BALB/c skin sensitization, were transplanted in the wild-type C57BL/6, Mtorfl/flCd4-Cre, Stat3fl/flCd4-Cre, and Mtorfl/flStat3fl/flCd4-Cre mice. Graft survival and histology, as well as T-cell frequencies and phenotypes, were evaluated after transplantation. RESULTS: In the absence of donor skin sensitization, long-term heart allograft survival was achieved in the Mtorfl/flCd4-Cre recipients, which was associated with significantly decreased frequencies of CD62LCD44+ effector T cells and BCL-6+CXCR5+ T follicular helper (Tfh) cells in the periphery. Long-term heart allograft survival was also achieved in the donor skin-sensitized Mtorfl/flStat3fl/flCd4-Cre mice, whereas the heart allograft survival was prolonged in the donor skin-sensitized Mtorfl/flCd4-Cre and Stat3fl/flCd4-Cre mice. CONCLUSIONS: mTOR is required for Tfh cell response in murine heart transplantation. T-cell-specific deletion of both mTOR and Stat3 abrogates the memory response to heart transplants. These findings help us to better understand the molecular mechanisms underlying the T cell immunity to transplanted organs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)134-144
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Heart and Lung Transplantation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2020


  • T follicular helper
  • allograft survival
  • effector T cell
  • heart transplantation
  • mTOR
  • memory T cell response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Transplantation


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