Vascularized composite allotransplantation (VCA) has become a valid therapeutic option to restore form and function after devastating tissue loss. However, the need for high-dose multidrug immunosuppression to maintain allograft survival is still hampering more widespread application of VCA. In this study, we investigated the immunoregulatory potential of costimulation blockade (CoB; CTLA4-Ig and anti-CD154 mAb) combined with nonmyeoablative total body irradiation (TBI) to promote allograft survival of VCA in a fully MHC-mismatched mouse model of orthotopic hind limb transplantation. Compared with untreated controls (median survival time [MST] 8 days) and CTLA4-Ig treatment alone (MST 17 days), CoB treatment increased graft survival (MST 82 days), and the addition of nonmyeloablative TBI led to indefinite graft survival (MST > 210 days). Our analysis suggests that VCA-derived BM induced mixed chimerism in animals treated with CoB and TBI + CoB, promoting gradual deletion of alloreactive T cells as the underlying mechanism of long-term allograft survival. Acceptance of donor-matched secondary skin grafts, decreased ex vivo T cell responsiveness, and increased graft-infiltrating Tregs further indicated donor-specific tolerance induced by TBI + CoB. In summary, our data suggest that vascularized BM-containing VCAs are immunologically favorable grafts promoting chimerism induction and long-term allograft survival in the context of CoB.
Byoung Chol Oh, Georg J. Furtmüller, Madeline L. Fryer, Yinan Guo, Franka Messner, Johanna Krapf, Stefan Schneeberger, Damon S. Cooney, W.P. Andrew Lee, Giorgio Raimondi, Gerald Brandacher