Dr. Thomson, PLRC member, published an article in the American Journal of Transplantation, entitled, “Donor plasmacytoid dendritic cells modulate effector and regulatory T cell responses in mouse spontaneous liver transplant tolerance.” Dr. David Geller, PLRC member and Co-Director of the Clinical Biospecimen and Processing Core, also contributed to this study.
We assessed the role of donor liver non-conventional plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) in spontaneous liver transplant tolerance in a fully MHC-mismatched (C57BL/6 (H2b ) to C3H (H2k )) mouse model. Compared with spleen pDCs, liver pDCs expressed higher levels of DNAX-activating protein of 12 kDa and its co-receptor, triggering receptor expressed by myeloid cells 2, and higher ratios of programed death ligand-1 (PD-L1):costimulatory CD80/CD86 in the steady state and after Toll-like receptor 9 ligation. Moreover, liver pDCs potently suppressed allogeneic CD4+ and CD8+ T cell proliferative responses. Survival of pDC-depleted livers was much poorer (median survival time: 25 days) than that of either untreated donor livers or pDC-depleted syngeneic donor livers that survived indefinitely. Numbers of forkhead box p3 (FoxP3)+ regulatory T cells in grafts and mesenteric lymph nodes of mice given pDC-depleted allogeneic livers were reduced significantly compared with those in recipients of untreated livers. Graft-infiltrating CD8+ T cells with an exhausted phenotype (programed cell death protein 1+ , T cell immunoglobulin and mucin domain-containing protein 3+ ) were also reduced in recipients of pDC-depleted livers. PD1-PD-L1 pathway blockade reversed the reduction in exhausted T cells. These novel observations link immunoregulatory functions of liver interstitial pDCs, alloreactive T cell exhaustion, and spontaneous liver transplant tolerance.