Liver allograft rejection in rats depleted of CD8+ cells

Dora I. Ninova, Deanna M. Ferguson, Peter J. Wettstein, Ruud A.F. Krom

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2 Scopus citations


The mechanism(s) of rejection or tolerance induction is a competitive, complex process that presumably involves interactions between multiple subpopulations of T lymphocytes. We investigated the roles of CD8+ cytolytic and CD4 + helper T cells in rat strains that tolerate liver allografts and that differ at both the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) (RT1) and minor histocompatibility genes. Orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) with arterial reconstruction was per formed with Brown Norway (BN) (RT1(n)) donors and Lewis (RT11) recipients, some of which were untreated, others treated with anti-CD8 antibody, and still others treated with anti-CD4 antibody. Liver graft rejection was monitored for 28 days on the basis of two criteria: (1) serum levels of AST enzyme at 3-day intervals and (2) liver biopsies at weekly intervals and at the time of sacrifice at the end of the study period. In the untreated control group, an elevation of AST was found to peak at day 6 after grafting, and it remained elevated until day 28 (AST 542 ± 72 U/l). Histologically, signs of severe rejection were first observed on day 9; these changed to moderate rejection about day 21 and to mild rejection by day 28, when the animals were sacrificed. Recipients pre-treated with anti-CD8 demonstrated a significant elevation of AST within 6 days that, unlike in the control recipients, continued to rise sharply through the observation period (AST 1127 ± 181 U/l, P = 0.009 vs control group). Liver biopsies showed mild rejection at day 9 and moderate rejection at days 21 through 28. Recipients pretreated with anti-CD4 showed a time course of enzyme elevation and severity of rejection that was not significantly different from that observed in the control group. However, anti-CD4 treatment resulted in only 75 % depletion of CD4+ cells in peripheral blood as compared to complete elimination of CD8+ cells following anti-CD8 treatment. Functional studies of spleen and liver-infiltrating lymphocytes obtained after 28 days showed low proliferative response in mixed lymphocyte culture with both BN and PVG stimulator spleen and lymph node cells. These results suggest that in this donor/recipient combination, removal of CD8+ cells increases the severity of rejection as demonstrated by a progressive rise in AST and histology. Moreover, OLT in this combination results in a profound, nonspecific inhibition of proliferative T-cell responses to MHC alloantigens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)499-505
Number of pages7
JournalTransplant International
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1996


  • CD8 cells, liver transplantation, rat
  • Liver transplantation, rat, CD8 cells
  • Rejection, CD8 cells, liver transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transplantation


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