The effects of preoperative donor-specific blood transfusion (DSBT) on the physiologic, morphologic, and immunologic aspects of allograft responsiveness were evaluated in a rat renal transplant model, using the ACI (RT1a) into PVG (RT1(c)) high-responder strain combination. Indefinite graft survival (mean > 63 days) could be induced by DSBT administration alone. In comparison, animals receiving autologous blood transfusion (ABT) all died within 7 days posttransplantation. As assessed by clearance of inulin and paraaminohippurate, renal allograft function in DSBT-pretreated recipients at 6 days was equivalent to that of isograft recipients, and in contrast to the significant reduction seen in ABT treated rats. Likewise, thromboxane B2 (TXB2) production by ex-vivo-perfused allografts from DSBT-treated recipients was comparable to that of isografts, and significantly lower than that of allografts from ABT-treated rats. A significant inverse correlation was found between renal TXB2 production and inulin clearance. Despite these substantial differences in renal function and eicosanoid metabolism, morphologic evaluation of renal allografts from DSBT-enhanced and ABT-rejecting recipients at comparable time points showed equivalent histologic manifestations of rejection. In addition, immunohistologic labeling of renal allograft sections and fluorescence-activated cell sorter analysis of cells eluted from allografts showed the same phenotype and pattern of infiltrating T cell subsets in both groups. Specific antidonor cytotoxic T lymphocyte precursor (pCTL) frequencies of cells eluted from kidney grafts were equivalent in DSBT and ABT-pretreated animals, and both groups expressed significantly higher (but equivalent) pCTL frequencies in the kidneys than spleens. Comparisons of the lysis of PVG.R1 (RT1.Aa on a PVG background) and ACI targets indicated that cytotoxic responses from effector cells freshly eluted from DSBT and ABT kidneys were primarily directed against allogeneic class I major histocompatibility complex (MHC) specificities, whereas several long term T cell lines generated from 6-day kidney transplants of both groups expressed a predominant W3/25+) T helper phenotype and cytotoxic activity against donor specificities other than RT1.Aa class I MHC. Specific antidonor proliferative T lymphocyte (pPTL) precursor frequencies of cells eluted from renal allografts were also equivalent for both DSBT- and ABT-treated recipients, and the range of pPTL frequencies for allograft cell eluates was similar to that in spleens, regardless of the source of the transfusion. Thus, in the rat, the prolonged renal allograft survival seen with DSBT pretreatment is associated with reduced thromboxane production, and does not appear to involve early depletion of alloreactive cytotoxic or proliferative T cell clones or activity. Moreover, these findings suggest that the presence of significant alloreactive cytotoxic and helper T cell populations within the spleen and allograft itself does not necessarily result in renal transplant dysfunction or rejection.
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