T Cells and Complement Independently Mediate Graft Ischemia in the Rejection of Mouse Orthotopic Tracheal Transplants
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RATIONALE: While microvascular injury is associated with chronic rejection, the cause of tissue ischemia during alloimmune injury is not yet elucidated. OBJECTIVE: We investigated the contribution of T lymphocytes and complement to microvascular injury-associated ischemia during acute rejection of mouse tracheal transplants. METHODS AND RESULTS: Using novel techniques to assess microvascular integrity and function, we evaluated how lymphocyte subsets and complement specifically affect microvascular perfusion and tissue oxygenation in MHC-mismatched transplants. To characterize T cell effects on microvessel loss and recovery, we transplanted functional airway grafts in the presence and absence of CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells. To establish the contribution of complement-mediated injury to the allograft microcirculation, we transplanted C3-deficient and C3-inhibited recipients. We demonstrated that CD4(+) T cells and complement are independently sufficient to cause graft ischemia. CD8(+) T cells were required for airway neovascularization to occur following CD4-mediated rejection. Activation of antibody-dependent complement pathways mediated tissue ischemia even in the absence of cellular rejection. Complement inhibition by CR2-Crry attenuated graft hypoxia, complement/antibody deposition on vascular endothelium and promoted vascular perfusion by enhanced angiogenesis. Finally, there was a clear relationship between the burden of tissue hypoxia (ischemia×time duration) and the development of subsequent airway remodeling. CONCLUSIONS: These studies demonstrated that CD4(+) T cells and complement operate independently to cause transplant ischemia during acute rejection and that sustained ischemia is a precursor to chronic rejection.
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