Background: Cotreatment with regulatory T cells (Treg) and conventional allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT) successfully induced durable chimerism and tolerance to nonvascularized skin allografts without cytoreductive conditioning in mice. We sought to determine whether T reg treatment combined with vascularized BMT (VBMT) could create mixed chimerism and induce tolerance to vascularized composite allografts (VCAs) without cytoreductive conditioning in rats. Methods: Recipient Lewis rats treated (day 0) with or without naturally sorted Treg (3 × 106) from Lewis rat spleen and lymph nodes received costimulation blockade (anti-CD154 monoclonal antibody, days 0 and 1 and CTLA-4 immunoglobin, days 2, 4, and 6), rapamycin (days -1, 0, and 2), and concurrent transplantation of fully mismatched allogeneic donor VCAs (day 0) from the Brown Norway rat hindlimb containing VBMT. The mixed chimerism level was assessed monthly using flow cytometry. Survival of VCAs and occurrence of graft-versus-host disease were assessed clinically and histologically. Results: The combination of T reg and VBMT treatment led to long-term multilineage hematopoietic mixed chimerism (12-18%) and long-term donor-specific tolerance to VCAs (89% acceptance rate). Neither stable mixed chimerism nor VCA acceptance was observed in recipients without Treg treatment. Graft-versus-host disease did not occur in the VBMT recipients. Conclusions: Cotreatment with Treg and VBMT created stable mixed chimerism and induced long-term donor-specific tolerance to VCAs without requiring cytoreductive conditioning. This noncytoreductive Treg-VBMT protocol has potential for clinical application in VCAs.
- Graft-versus-host disease
- Mixed chimerism
- Regulatory T cells
- Vascularized bone marrow transplantation
- Vascularized composite allograft
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