• Acute rejection;
  • kidney transplantation;
  • monocyte;
  • T-cell proliferation

It is still disputed in which anatomical compartments of allograft recipients T-cells proliferate. After experimental renal transplantation, host monocytes and lymphocytes accumulate in the lumina of graft blood vessels. In this study, we test the hypothesis that T lymphocytes proliferate in the vascular bed of the graft. Kidneys were transplanted in the Dark Agouti to Lewis rat strain combination, an established experimental model for acute rejection. Isogeneic transplantation was performed as a control. Cells in the S-phase of mitosis were detected in situ three days posttransplantation by pulse-labeling with BrdU and by immunohistochemical detection of the proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA). More than 20% of all T-cells in the lumina of allograft blood vessels incorporated BrdU and approximately 30% of them expressed PCNA. In the blood vessels of isografts as well as in other organs of allograft recipients, only few BrdU+ cells were detected. A majority of the BrdU+ cells in graft blood vessels expressed CD8. In conclusion, we demonstrate that CD8+ T lymphocytes proliferate in the lumina of the blood vessels of renal allografts during the onset of acute rejection.