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Keywords:

  • Transplantation tolerance;
  • CD4 monoclonal antibody therapy

Abstract

CBA/Ca mice may be made tolerant to minor histoincompatible B10.BR skin grafts by treatment with a short course of non-depleting anti-mouse CD4 and CD8 monoclonal antibodies (mAb), during the transplantation period. We wished to determine when, in relation to antibody therapy, the T cells became tolerant. This was investigated by a series of adoptive transfer experiments in which mAb-treated cells were removed from therapeutic antibody at defined times after skin grafting, and exposed to fresh antigen in the absence of further mAb treatment. We show here that T cells do not become fully tolerant until 5 weeks after skin grafting. If antibody therapy is continued for the full 5 weeks, T cell tolerance can still be established, suggesting that antibody therapy does not prevent lymphocytes from registering the presence of antigen. Once the tolerant state is established, it is difficult to break that tolerance by lymphocyte infusions from normal donors. This “resistance” is mediated by T cells of the tolerant host. We show that the maintenance of both tolerance and “resistance” requires a continuous supply of antigen. When tolerant cells were “parked” in T celldepleted mice, tolerance and “resistance” were eventually lost by 6 months. In contrast, “parked” cells exposed to fresh antigen at any time up to 4 months remained tolerant and “resistant” indefinitely. Finally, we wished to establish whether “resistance” was peculiar to this form of peripheral tolerance, or whether it might also be present in tolerance considered to be classically central. We observed resistance to be greater in the mAb-treated peripherally tolerant group, but noted that some of the centrally tolerant animals also exhibited a level of resistance above that of T cell-ablated controls. This suggests that a tolerance mechanism whose role is only minor in central tolerance may have a major role in antibody-mediated peripheral tolerance.