Evidence that non-deletional mechanisms are responsible for inducing and maintaining unresponsiveness after intrathymic injection of non-professional antigen presenting cells.
Niimi M., Jones ND., Morris PJ., Wood KJ.
INTRODUCTION: Intrathymic inoculation of donor alloantigen and concomitant immunosuppressive treatment can induce immune unresponsiveness to alloantigen. To examine the role of non-deletional mechanisms in the development of unresponsiveness, fractionated splenocytes were injected into only 1 lobe of the thymus. METHODS AND RESULTS: Untreated CBA (H2(k)) mice or controls pre-treated with anti-CD4 monoclonal antibody alone (on Day -28 and -27 relative to transplantation) acutely rejected C57BL/10 (H2(b)) cardiac allografts. Intrathymic inoculation of unfractionated splenocytes, resting B (rB) cells, or dendritic cells into both thymic lobes with the antibody resulted in indefinite survival of cardiac allografts. In contrast, when donor rB cells or dendritic cells were delivered into a single lobe of the thymus with the antibody, only rB cells induced indefinite prolongation of graft survival; unfractionated splenocytes or dendritic cells were markedly less effective. Mice that had 1 of the 2 thymic lobes removed were able to reject grafts even when treated with the antibody 27 days before transplantation. Therefore, T-cell export from 1 thymic lobe was sufficient to induce graft rejection. Finally, adoptive transfer of splenocytes from mice with long-term surviving primary grafts resulting from the intrathymic injection of rB cells significantly prolonged a graft from the same donor strain in a naive syngeneic recipient. CONCLUSION: Taken together, these data suggest that regulatory mechanisms generated by intrathymic injection of a non-professional antigen presenting cell, in this study donor rB cells, suppressed the rejection response mediated by T cells exported from the uninjected lobe.