Recipient endogenous memory T cells with donor reactivity pose an important barrier to successful transplantation and costimulatory blockade–induced graft tolerance. Longer ischemic storage times prior to organ transplantation increase early posttransplant inflammation and negatively impact early graft function and long-term graft outcome. Little is known about the mechanisms enhancing endogenous memory T cell activation to mediate tissue injury within the increased inflammatory environment of allografts subjected to prolonged cold ischemic storage (CIS). Endogenous memory CD4+ and CD8+ T cell activation is markedly increased within complete MHC-mismatched cardiac allografts subjected to prolonged versus minimal CIS, and the memory CD8+ T cells directly mediate CTLA-4Ig–resistant allograft rejection. Memory CD8+ T cell activation within allografts subjected to prolonged CIS requires memory CD4+ T cell stimulation of graft DCs to produce p40 homodimers, but not IL-12 p40/p35 heterodimers. Targeting p40 abrogates memory CD8+ T cell proliferation within the allografts and their ability to mediate CTLA-4Ig–resistant allograft rejection. These findings indicate a critical role for memory CD4+ T cell–graft DC interactions to increase the intensity of endogenous memory CD8+ T cell activation needed to mediate rejection of higher-risk allografts subjected to increased CIS.
Hidetoshi Tsuda, Charles A. Su, Toshiaki Tanaka, Katayoun Ayasoufi, Booki Min, Anna Valujskikh, Robert L. Fairchild