Immunosuppressive therapy abrogates unresponsiveness to renal allograft induced by thymic recognition of donor antigens

N. Perico, O. Imberti, M. Bontempelli, G. Remuzzi

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This laboratory and others have previously shown that the intrathymic injection of donor cells or major histocompatibility complex allopeptides induced indefinite survival of a subsequent graft without immunosuppression. This approach may open interesting new perspectives for transplant medicine. Studies to explore the feasibility of the technique in humans can only be designed with some form of concomitant immunosuppression to avoid the risk of irreversible rejection in the case that the thymus approach fails. Thus, one of the first issues to address is whether conventional immunosuppression interfered with the process of thymus tolerance. This study was designed to investigate the above issue. In transplanted Lewis control rats, cyclosporin A (CsA) (10 mg/kg per day) and methylprednisolone (MP) (10 mg/kg twice daily) for 3 days were invariably followed by kidney graft rejection within 10 days. In subsequent experiments, five groups of Lewis rats were injected with medium alone or Brown-Norway (BN) leukocytes into the thymus, and 24 h later, they were orthotopically transplanted with major histocompatibility complex-incompatible kidneys from BN rats. At the time of transplantation, Lewis rats received MP (10 mg/kg twice daily) CsA (10 mg/kg per day), or the combination of the two (MP + CsA at the same dose) for 3 days. Lewis rats injected intrathymically with BN leukocytes but not receiving immunosuppressants had indefinite survival of their kidney graft. The effect of the intrathymic injection of donor cells of inducing unresponsiveness to a subsequent kidney graft was abolished by concomitant immunosuppression. All animals given immunosuppressants rejected their graft within 12 days after surgery. These findings indicate that, at least in rats, steroids and CsA interfere with the mechanism(s) that promote thymic recognition of alloantigens. These results have major implications for future studies aimed at exploring whether the thymus technique was a feasible antirejection strategy in human transplantation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1618-1623
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Society of Nephrology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1995


  • graft survival
  • immunosuppressants
  • intrathymic injection
  • leukocytes
  • tolerance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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