Enrichment of Regulatory T Cells in Acutely Rejected Human Liver Allografts


Elmar Jaeckel, jaeckel.elmar@mh-hannover.de


Acute cellular rejection (ACR) occurs frequently after liver transplantation and can usually be controlled. Triggering of allospecific immune responses and lack of immunoregulation are currently suggested as a cause of ACR, but there are no investigations of intrahepatic immune responses during ACR. Therefore we prospectively analyzed the intrahepatic T cell infiltration pattern in correlation to the severity of ACR in a cohort of patients with graft hepatitis (n = 151). While CD4+ cells dominated the portal infiltrates in mild–moderate ACR, CD8+ cells prevailed in severe ACR. Furthermore portal CD8+ and not CD4+ infiltration correlated with serum transaminases and with the likelihood of subsequent ACRs. Surprisingly, the rise of portal effector T cells density during ACR was surpassed by the increase in portal infiltration of regulatory T cells by a factor of two. Thus ACRs rather showed an increase and not a lack of regulation, as was suggested by analysis of peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Despite the pattern of enhanced immunoregulation, patients with severe ACR had a higher risk for subsequent rejections and showed a trend to a reduced survival. Thus, patients with severe rejections might need a modification of their immunosuppression to improve prognosis.