Open Access Characterization of Tolerance Induction Through Prenatal Marrow Transplantation: The Requirement for a Threshold Level of Chimerism to Establish Rather Than Maintain Postnatal Skin Tolerance

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Hematopoietic chimerism resulting from prenatal marrow transplantation does not consistently result in allotolerance for unidentified causes. In a C57BL/6-into-FVB/N murine model, we transplanted T-cell-depleted adult marrow on gestational day 14 to elucidate the immunological significance of chimerism towards postnatal tolerance. Postnatally, chimerism was examined by flow cytometry, and tolerance by skin transplantation and mixed lymphocyte reaction. Regulatory T cells were quantified by FoxP3 expression. Peripheral chimerism linearly related to thymic chimerism, and predicted the degree of graft acceptance with levels >3% at skin placement, yielding consistent skin tolerance. Low- and high-level chimeras had lower intrathymic CD3high expression than microchimeras or untransplanted mice. Regardless of the skin tolerance status in mixed chimeras, donor-specific alloreactivity by lymphocytes was suppressed but could be partially restored by exogenous interleukin-2. Recipients that lost peripheral chimerism did not accept donor skin unless prior donor skin had engrafted at sufficient chimerism levels, suggesting that complete tolerance can develop as a consequence of chimerism-related immunosuppression of host lymphocytes and the tolerogenic effects of donor skin. Thus, hematopoietic chimerism exerted immunomodulatory effects on the induction phase of allograft tolerance. Once established, skin tolerance did not fade away along with spontaneous regression of peripheral and tissue chimerism, as well as removal of engrafted donor skin. Neither did it break following in vivo depletion of increased regulatory T cells, and subcutaneous interleukin-2 injection beneath the engrafted donor skin. Those observations indicate that the maintenance of skin tolerance is multifaceted, neither solely dependent upon hematopoietic chimerism and engrafted donor skin nor on the effects of regulatory T cells or clonal anergy. We conclude that hematopoietic chimerism generated by in utero hematopoietic stem cell transplantation is critical to establish rather than maintain postnatal skin tolerance. Therefore, the diminution of hematopoietic chimerism below a threshold level does not nullify an existing tolerance state, but lessens the chance of enabling complete tolerance.

Keywords: Chimerism; Hematopoietic stem cells; In utero; Marrow transplantation; Transplantation tolerance

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Surgery, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Chang Gung University, Taoyuan, Taiwan

Publication date: December 1, 2010

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  • Cell Transplantation publishes original, peer-reviewed research and review articles on the subject of cell transplantation and its application to human diseases. To ensure high-quality contributions from all areas of transplantation, separate section editors and editorial boards have been established. Articles deal with a wide range of topics including physiological, medical, preclinical, tissue engineering, and device-oriented aspects of transplantation of nervous system, endocrine, growth factor-secreting, bone marrow, epithelial, endothelial, and genetically engineered cells, among others. Basic clinical studies and immunological research papers are also featured. To provide complete coverage of this revolutionary field, Cell Transplantation will report on relevant technological advances, and ethical and regulatory considerations of cell transplants. Cell Transplantation is now an Open Access journal starting with volume 18 in 2009, and therefore there will be an inexpensive publication charge, which is dependent on the number of pages, in addition to the charge for color figures. This will allow work to be disseminated to a wider audience and also entitle the corresponding author to a free PDF, as well as prepublication of an unedited version of the manuscript.



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