Background: Heart transplantation is a lifesaving procedure for patients with end-stage heart failure. Despite much effort and advances in the field, current immunosuppressive regimens are still associated with poor long-term cardiac allograft outcomes, and with the development of complications, including infections and malignancies, as well. The development of a novel, short-term, and effective immunomodulatory protocol will thus be an important achievement. The purine ATP, released during cell damage/activation, is sensed by the ionotropic purinergic receptor P2X7 (P2X7R) on lymphocytes and regulates T-cell activation. Novel clinical-grade P2X7R inhibitors are available, rendering the targeting of P2X7R a potential therapy in cardiac transplantation. Methods and Results: We analyzed P2X7R expression in patients and mice and P2X7R targeting in murine recipients in the context of cardiac transplantation. Our data demonstrate that P2X7R is specifically upregulated in graft-infiltrating lymphocytes in cardiac-transplanted humans and mice. Short-term P2X7R targeting with periodate-oxidized ATP promotes long-term cardiac transplant survival in 80% of murine recipients of a fully mismatched allograft. Long-term survival of cardiac transplants was associated with reduced T-cell activation, T-helper cell 1/T-helper cell 17 differentiation, and inhibition of STAT3 phosphorylation in T cells, thus leading to a reduced transplant infiltrate and coronaropathy. In vitro genetic upregulation of the P2X7R pathway was also shown to stimulate T-helper cell 1/T-helper cell 17 cell generation. Finally, P2X7R targeting halted the progression of coronaropathy in a murine model of chronic rejection as well. Conclusions: P2X7R targeting is a novel clinically relevant strategy to prolong cardiac transplant survival.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physiology (medical)
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine