BACKGROUND - Accommodation in patients transplanted with ABO incompatible allografts describes a state in which antibodies are produced against the incompatible blood group carbohydrate antigen; however, the graft is not rejected. The present study describes an experimental model for antibody-mediated accommodation of organs expressing incompatible carbohydrate antigens.
METHODS - The model includes alpha1,3galactosyltransferase knockout mice that lack the alpha-gal epitope (Galalpha1-3Galbeta1-4GlcNAc-R), transplanted heterotopically with wild-type (WT) hearts expressing this epitope. The mice are irradiated and receive memory anti-Gal B cells by adoptive transfer. Immunization of these mice with pig-kidney membranes induces the production of large amounts of anti-Gal, which binds specifically to alpha-gal epitopes.
RESULTS - Under the described accommodation protocol, transplanted mice produce anti-Gal that binds to alpha-gal epitopes on endothelial cells of the grafted WT heart; however, the WT hearts continued to function for months. Second WT hearts transplanted into accommodating, anti-Gal producing mice, were not rejected. Anti-Gal in accommodating mice was not cytolytic, whereas anti-Gal in rejecting mice readily induced complement-mediated lysis of cells expressing alpha-gal epitopes. In addition, accommodating mice displayed a preferential increase in the anti-Gal immunoglobulin (Ig)G2b subclass.
CONCLUSIONS - The immune system may be manipulated to accommodate grafts expressing incompatible carbohydrate antigens by preferential production of noncytolytic anticarbohydrate antibodies.