Chronic graft-specific cell-mediated immune response toward candidate xenogeneic biomaterial

Katherine V. Gates, Leigh G. Griffiths

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite rabbits becoming an increasingly popular animal model, a flow cytometry panel that combines T cell markers (CD3, CD4, CD8, CD25, FOXP3) with a method for monitoring proliferation is lacking in this species. It has been shown that the rabbit model can be used to identify xenoantigens within bovine pericardium (BP), a common biological heart valve replacement material; however, these methods rely on monitoring the humoral immune response. The development of a rabbit T cell proliferation assay has utility in monitoring graft-specific cell-mediated immune responses toward bovine pericardium. Isolation and culture conditions were optimized to avoid cell death, red blood cell contamination, and non-specific proliferation. Effect of cell culture and stimulation on distribution and intensity of T cell markers was analyzed and compared between cells isolated from naïve and BP-immunized rabbits. Submaximal levels (0.25 μg/mL) of concavalin A were used to stimulate proliferation toward BP extract, with resultant proliferation compared between naïve and BP-immunized rabbits. Density stratification followed by ammonium potassium chloride (ACK) lysis yielded the greatest number of viable peripheral blood mononuclear cells with the least amount of erythrocyte contamination. Flat-bottomed plates were necessary to reduce non-specific proliferation in culture. T cells responded appropriately to maximal mitogenic stimulation (5 μg/mL concavalin A). Interestingly, immunization increased the intensity of FOXP3 in T regulatory cells compared to cells from naïve animals. With addition of submaximal levels of concavalin A, T cells from immunized rabbits proliferated in response to BP protein extract, while cells from naïve rabbits did not. In immunized rabbits, not only did more CD4+ T cells proliferate in response to BP re-stimulation, but the intensity of CD25 was increased indicating cell activation. This research provides a functional cell-mediated screening assay for assessment of BP-based biomaterials in rabbits, overcoming the limitations of previous humoral immune system-based assessments of biomaterial antigenicity in this important experimental animal species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)288-298
Number of pages11
JournalImmunologic Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018


  • Bovine pericardium
  • Proliferation
  • Rabbit
  • T lymphocytes
  • T regulatory cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


Dive into the research topics of 'Chronic graft-specific cell-mediated immune response toward candidate xenogeneic biomaterial'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this