Vascularized allogeneic skeletal tissue transplantation without the need for host immunosuppression would increase reconstructive options for treating congenital and acquired defects. Because the immune system of a fetus or neonate is immature, it may be possible to induce tolerance to allogeneic skeletal tissues by alloantigen injection during this permissive period. Within 12 hours after birth, 17 neonatal Lewis rats were injected through the superficial temporal vein with 3.5 to 5 million Brown Norway bone marrow cells in 0.1 ml normal saline. Ten weeks after the injection, peripheral blood from the Lewis rats was analyzed for the presence of Brown Norway cells to determine hemopoietic chimerism. The Lewis rats then received a heterotopic, vascularized limb tissue transplant (consisting of the knee, the distal femur, the proximal tibia, and the surrounding muscle on a femoral vascular pedicle) from Brown Norway rat donors to determine their tolerance to the allogeneic tissue A positive control group (n = 6) consisted of syngeneic transplants from Lewis rats into naive Lewis rats to demonstrate survival of transplants. A negative control group (n = 6) consisted of Brown Norway transplants into naive Lewis rats not receiving bone marrow or other immunosuppressive treatment. The animals were assessed for transplant viability 30 days after transplantation using histologic and bone fluorochrome analysis. All the syngeneic controls (Lewis to Lewis) remained viable throughout the experiment, whereas all the Brown Norway to Lewis controls had rejected. Ten of the 17 allografts transplanted into bone marrow recipients were viable at 30 days, with profuse bleeding from the ends of the bone graft and the surrounding graft muscle. The percent of chimerism correlated with survival, with 3.31 percent (SD = 1.9) of peripheral blood, Brown Norway chimerism present in the prolonged survival groups and 0.75 percent (SD = 0.5) of Brown Norway chimerism in the rejected graft group. This study demonstrated prolonged survival of allogeneic skeletal tissue without immunosuppression after early neonatal injection of allogeneic bone marrow in a rat model.
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