Alloreactive (CD4-independent) CD8+ T cells jeopardize long-term survival of intrahepatic islet allografts
Islets of Langerhans Transplantation
Despite success of early islet allograft engraftment and survival in humans, late islet allograft loss has emerged as an important clinical problem. CD8+ T cells that are independent of CD4+ T cell help can damage allograft tissues and are resistant to conventional immunosuppressive therapies. Previous work demonstrates that islet allografts do not primarily initiate rejection by the (CD4-independent) CD8-dependent pathway. This study was performed to determine if activation of alloreactive CD4-independent, CD8+ T cells, by exogenous stimuli, can precipitate late loss of islet allografts. Recipients were induced to accept intrahepatic islet allografts (islet 'acceptors') by short-term immunotherapy with donor-specific transfusion (DST) and anti-CD154 mAb. Following the establishment of stable long-term islet allograft function for 60-90 days, recipients were challenged with donor-matched hepatocellular allografts, which are known to activate (CD4-independent) CD8+ T cells. Allogeneic islets engrafted long-term were vulnerable to damage when challenged locally with donor-matched hepatocytes. Islet allograft loss was due to allospecific immune damage, which was CD8- but not CD4-dependent. Selection of specific immunotherapy to suppress both CD4- and CD8-dependent immune pathways at the time of transplant protects islet allografts from both early and late immune damage.