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Keywords:

  • Innate immunity;
  • ischemia-reperfusion injury;
  • orthotopic liver transplantation;
  • TIM-1;
  • T cell costimulation

Hepatic injury due to cold storage followed by reperfusion remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality after orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT). CD4 T cell TIM-1 signaling costimulates a variety of immune responses in allograft recipients. This study analyzes mechanisms by which TIM-1 affects liver ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI) in a murine model of prolonged cold storage followed by OLT. Livers from C57BL/6 mice, preserved at 4°C in the UW solution for 20 h, were transplanted to syngeneic recipients. There was an early (1 h) increased accumulation of TIM-1+ activated CD4 T cells in the ischemic OLTs. Disruption of TIM-1 signaling with a blocking mAb (RMT1–10) ameliorated liver damage, evidenced by reduced sALT levels and well-preserved architecture. Unlike in controls, TIM-1 blockade diminished OLT expression of Tbet/IFN-γ, but amplified IL-4/IL-10/IL-22; abolished neutrophil and macrophage infiltration/activation and inhibited NF-κB while enhancing Bcl-2/Bcl-xl. Although adoptive transfer of CD4 T cells triggered liver damage in otherwise IR-resistant RAG−/− mice, adjunctive TIM-1 blockade reduced Tbet transcription and abolished macrophage activation, restoring homeostasis in IR-stressed livers. Further, transfer of TIM-1HiCD4+, but not TIM-1LoCD4+ T cells, recreated liver IRI in RAG−/− mice. Thus, TIM-1 expressing CD4 T cells are required in the mechanism of innate immune-mediated hepatic IRI in OLTs.