Reduction of donor-specific cytotoxic T lymphocyte precursors in peripheral blood of allografted heart recipients

H Hu, M Robertus, N de Jonge, F H Gmelig-Meyling, A van der Meulen, H J Schuurman, H Doornewaard, H C van Prooijen, R A de Weger

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Tolerance to allografted hearts in human recipients has been observed both in clinical situations and in in vitro experiments. To elucidate whether a quantitative change of alloreactive CTL is one of the mechanisms accounting for this graft tolerance, CTL precursor (CTLp) frequencies in the peripheral blood of 10 heart recipients were measured against spleen cells from donors and HLA nonidentical third-party persons. In this longitudinal follow-up study, we showed that the rejection reaction(s) in the grafted heart correlated with CTLp frequencies in samples taken before transplantation against the donor spleen cells, but not with the CTLp frequencies against the spleen cells from the third-party persons. The CTLp frequencies against the spleen cells from donors decreased 4-6 months after transplantation, and remained at a low level afterward. However, the CTLp frequencies against spleen cells from third-party persons in blood samples obtained 1 year after transplantation were not significantly different from those before transplantation. Therefore, we conclude that donor-reactive CTLs are important in rejecting allografted heart. The decrease in donor-specific CTLp after transplantation could explain the donor-specific tolerance. The decrease may be due to homing of the specific CTLp to the graft, or by clonal deletion of the donor-reactive CTL caused by chronic alloantigen stimulation in the presence of immunosuppressive therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1263-8
Number of pages6
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 1994


  • Blood Cells
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Heart Transplantation
  • Humans
  • Immune Tolerance
  • Spleen
  • Stem Cells
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic
  • Tissue Donors


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