Immune responses and their regulation by donor bone marrow cells in clinical organ transplantation

James M. Mathew, Rolando O. Garcia-Morales, Manuel Carreno, Yide Jin, Laphalle Fuller, Bonnie Blomberg, Robert Cirocco, George W. Burke, Gaetano Ciancio, Camillo Ricordi, Violet Esquenazi, Andreas G. Tzakis, Joshua Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Infusions of donor bone marrow derived cells (DBMC) continue to be tested in clinical protocols intended to induce specific immunologic tolerance of solid organ transplants based on the observations that donor-specific tolerance is induced this way in animal models. We studied the immunological effects of human DBMC infusions in renal transplantation using modifications in lymphoproliferation (MLR) and cytotoxicity (CML) assays. The salient observations and tentative conclusions are summarized in this review. Among many types of organs transplanted using DBMC at this center, it was found that the cadaver renal recipients (CAD) had significantly decreased chronic rejection and higher graft survival when compared to equivalent non-infused controls. DBMC infusion was also associated with a marginal and non-specific immune depression. It was also observed that the number of chimeric donor cells gradually increased in the iliac crest bone marrow compartment with a concomitant decrease in the peripheral blood and that the increase was more rapid in living-related donor (LRD)-kidney/DBMC recipients in spite of a lower number of DBMC infused (<25%) than in the CAD-kidney/DBMC group. In the LRD recipients with residual anti-donor responses, purified chimeric cells of either donor or recipient inhibited recipient immune responses to the donor significantly more strongly than the freshly obtained bone marrow from the specific donor or volunteer suggesting an active regulatory role for chimeric cells. A number of (non-chimeric) subpopulations of bone marrow cells including CD34+ stem cells and the CD34- early progeny like CD38+, CD2+, CD5+ and CD1+ lymphoid cells as well as CD33+ (but CD15-) myeloid cells down-regulated the MLR and CML responses of allogeneic PBMC stimulated with (autologous) donor spleen cells. These regulatory effects appeared to be refractory to the action of commonly used immunosuppressive drugs and occurred during the early phase of the immune response through cell-cell interactions. Most of these DBMC sub-populations had stimulatory capabilities, albeit markedly lower than donor spleen cells, but only through the indirect antigen presentation pathway. When co-cultured with allogeneic stimulators, purified CD34+ cells were found to give rise both to CD3- TCRαβ+, as well as CD3+ TCRαβ+ cells and, thereby, responded in MLR to allogeneic stimulation (but did not generate cytotoxic effector cells). Also, a number of DBMC subpopulations inhibited the CML and to a lesser extent the MLR, of autologous post-thymic responding T cells stimulated with allogeneic irradiated cells, mediated through soluble factors. Finally, non-chimeric DBMC also inhibited the proliferative and cytotoxic responses of autologous T cells to EBV antigens, inducing T suppressor cells, which in turn could inhibit autologous anti-EBV CTL generation and B cell anti-CMV antibody production. These studies all suggested a strong inhibitory property of a number of DBMC sub-populations in vitro and in vivo with the notion that they promote unresponsiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-321
Number of pages15
JournalTransplant Immunology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2003


  • Donor bone marrow cells (DBMC)
  • Immune responses
  • Living-related donor (LRD)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Transplantation


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