Canine renal cortical cells were obtained by collagenase extraction from allogeneic haploidentical, donor-recipient beagle littermate pairs and from unrelated mongrels. Peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) of the mongrels, as well as of one member of the beagle pair that exhibited high mined lymphocyte culture (MLC) reactivity against the other were also stimulated by renal cortical cells derived from both normal and rejected transplanted kidneys in mixed lymphocyte kidney cell culture (MLKC). A moderate autologous MLKC reactivity occurred in response to normal renal cortical cells. However, rejected kidney cortical cells were markedly more stimulatory than normal renal cortical cells in both allogeneic and autologous MLKC reactions. Lymphocytes from donor animals responded more strongly to autologous cortical cells isolated during rejection of the transplant than to cortical cells from normal allogeneic kidneys. Recipients infiltrating lymphocytes and propagated T cells lines extracted from the rejected kidney also responded more strongly than PBL to cortical cells from this kidney. Gradient purification of the stimulating cortical cells resulted in one virtually pure preparation of distal tubular epithelial cells, as demonstrated by immunohistochemical stains and electron microscopy, which caused enhanced stimulation in MLKC. Class II marker analysis of the canine renal cells from rejected kidneys revealed the presence of these molecules on tubular cells that were absent on normal kidney cells. A 16-hr coculture of normal renal cortical cells not exhibiting class II surface markers in the presence of allogeneic or autologous lymphocytes induced the expression of these molecules, associated with an increased stimulatory capacity. This also occurred to a lesser extent with MLC (and MLKC) cell culture media supernatants. However, the low level of class II expression by all the various gradient-purified fractions in the absence of rejection or coculture, and the increased but equivalent expression on all fractions after coculture did not correlate with the preferential stimulatory capacity of the purified distal tubular cell layer. We conclude that two signals are necessary for the MLKC reaction, one involving tissue (kidney)-associated epitopes (the nominal antigen demonstrated in this study to be present in normal distal tubular cells), the other involving class II molecules as costimulatory (amplification) moieties.
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