As the major site of self-nonself discrimination in the immune system, the thymus, if successfully transplanted, could potentially carry with it the induction of central tolerance to any other organ or tissue from the same donor. We have recently developed a technique for transplantation of an intact, vascularized thymic lobe (VTL) in miniature swine. In the present study, we have examined the ability of such VTL allografts to support thymopoiesis and induce transplantation tolerance across fully MHC-mismatched barriers. Six miniature swine recipients received fully MHC-mismatched VTL grafts with a 12-day course of tacrolimus. Three of these recipients were thymectomized before transplantation and accepted their VTL allografts long-term, with evidence of normal thymopoiesis. In contrast, three euthymic recipients rejected their VTL allografts. Donor renal allografts, matched to the donor VTL grafts, were transplanted without immunosuppression into two of the three thymectomized recipients, and one of the three euthymic recipients. These renal allografts were accepted by thymectomized recipients, but rejected by the euthymic recipient in an accelerated fashion. This study thus demonstrates that successful transplantation of a vascularized thymus across a fully MHC-mismatched barrier induces tolerance in this preclinical, large-animal model. This procedure should enable studies on the role of the thymus in transplantation immunology as well as offer a potential strategy for tolerance induction in clinical transplantation.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Mar 16 2004|
- Thymus transplantation
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