Mechanism of action of donor-specific transfusion in inducing tolerance: role of donor MHC molecules, donor co-stimulatory molecules, and indirect antigen presentation.

Date Published:

2004 Sep


Donor-specific transfusion (DST) can synergize with T cell co-stimulatory blockade in inducing tolerance in several transplant models, but the mechanism of action of DST is poorly characterized. This study used genetically altered mice in an established model of cardiac transplantation to study the role of MHC and co-stimulatory molecule expression on DST cells in mediating the immunomodulatory effects of DST. In addition, to examine the role of indirect antigen presentation in the effect of DST, experiments used recipient mice that do not express MHC class II molecules on peripheral antigen-presenting cells, but do have functional CD4(+) T cells (II(-)4(+)). As previously reported, treatment with DST from wild-type donors in combination with CD154 blockade induced tolerance in wild-type recipients of cardiac allografts. Tolerance in this model is also induced despite the absence of MHC class I and II, CD40, or B7 molecules on transfused cells. In contrast, eliminating the indirect pathway using II(-)4(+) recipients blocked the induction of long-term cardiac allograft survival by DST. These results indicate that the indirect antigen recognition pathway mediates the immunomodulatory effect of DST in inducing transplantation tolerance in vivo.