• Adhesion molecules;
  • Chronic rejection

Abstract Intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) and vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) are important in endothelial cell-leukocyte interactions. In this sequential study, the expression of ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 and their ligands LFA-1 and VLA-4 as well as major histocompatibility complex class II antigens (MHC class II), and interleukin-2-receptor (IL-2R) were investigated during the development of chronic renal allograft rejection in a rat model. The time-related expression of adhesion molecules and their ligands in the graft was correlated to the chronic allograft damage index (CADI). In association with an initial short immune activation, there was a significant ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 induction in the vascular endothelium and the tubular epithelium. In the interstitium, there was infiltration of lymphocytes expressing ligand molecules VLA-4 and LFA-1, as well as activation markers MHC class II and IL-2R. Thereafter, the expression declined together with the increase of CADI-values. In end-stage chronic rejection, there was practically no expression of ICAM-1 and VCAM-1. In the interstitium, there were only few ligand-expressing leukocytes. In conclusion, adhesion molecules and their ligands are involved in the induction phase of the process but no longer in the later stages of chronic rejection.