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Keywords:

  • Adoptive transfer;
  • antibody-mediated rejection;
  • ELISPOT;
  • graft infiltrating lymphocytes;
  • T cell–mediated rejection

We utilized mouse models to elucidate the immunologic mechanisms of functional graft loss during mixed antibody-mediated rejection of renal allografts (mixed AMR), in which humoral and cellular responses to the graft occur concomitantly. Although the majority of T cells in the graft at the time of rejection were CD8 T cells with only a minor population of CD4 T cells, depletion of CD4 but not CD8 cells prevented acute graft loss during mixed AMR. CD4 depletion eliminated antidonor alloantibodies and conferred protection from destruction of renal allografts. ELISPOT revealed that CD4 T effectors responded to donor alloantigens by both the direct and indirect pathways of allorecognition. In transfer studies, CD4 T effectors primed to donor alloantigens were highly effective at promoting acute graft dysfunction, and exhibited the attributes of effector T cells. Laser capture microdissection and confirmatory immunostaining studies revealed that CD4 T cells infiltrating the graft produced effector molecules with graft destructive potential. Bioluminescent imaging confirmed that CD4 T effectors traffic to the graft site in immune replete hosts. These data document that host CD4 T cells can promote acute dysfunction of renal allografts by directly mediating graft injury in addition to facilitating antidonor alloantibody responses.