Successful engraftment of organ transplants has traditionally relied on preventing the activation of recipient (host) T cells. Once T-cell activation has occurred, however, stalling the rejection process becomes increasingly difficult, leading to graft failure. Here we demonstrate that graft-infiltrating, recipient (host) dendritic cells (DCs) play a key role in driving the rejection of transplanted organs by activated (effector) T cells. We show that donor DCs that accompany heart or kidney grafts are rapidly replaced by recipient DCs. The DCs originate from non-classical monocytes and form stable, cognate interactions with effector T cells in the graft. Eliminating recipient DCs reduces the proliferation and survival of graft-infiltrating T cells and abrogates ongoing rejection or rejection mediated by transferred effector T cells. Therefore, host DCs that infiltrate transplanted organs sustain the alloimmune response after T-cell activation has already occurred. Targeting these cells provides a means for preventing or treating rejection.
- Dendritic Cells
- Organ Transplant Rejection