A novel mechanism of liver allograft rejection facilitated by antibodies to liver sinusoidal endothelial cells


  • Presented at the American Transplantation Congress May 2004, Boston, MA.


Liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs) may be implicated in the induction of liver allograft rejections. We studied the clinical consequences of LSEC-reactive antibodies and their functional capacity in modulating T-cell responses during acute rejections. Pre- and posttransplant sera and T lymphocytes from 95 liver transplant patients were used in this study. LSECs were isolated from normal healthy liver. Binding of antibodies to LSECs was detected using flow cytometry. To study whether LSEC antibodies facilitated cell-mediated immunity, a mixed cell culture (MCC) assay was used. Cytokines in the supernatants of MCC were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Liver biopsy sections were stained to detect the deposition of immunoglobulins in LSECs during rejections. The 2-year patient survival was 86.3%. A significantly higher number of patients with rejections had LSEC antibodies (35/50; 70%) than those without rejections (8/45; 18%) (P < .0001). Purified fractions of LSEC antibodies induced the expression of the costimulatory molecule CD86 on LSECs. A significantly higher number of patients with LSEC antibodies and rejections had an increased proliferation of T cells and markedly decreased levels of transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) in the MCC than those without antibodies and rejections (P < .0001, P < .0001, respectively). Deposition of antibodies in LSECs during rejection episodes was observed in the biopsies of patients with LSEC antibodies but not in those without LSEC antibodies. In conclusion, antibodies to LSECs may facilitate acute liver allograft rejections by down-regulating the immune modulating cytokine TGF-β and thus up-regulating alloreactive T-cell proliferation. (HEPATOLOGY 2004;40:1211–1221.)