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Diversity of the CD4 T Cell Alloresponse: The Short and the Long of It

Ali, JM;Negus, MC;Conlon, TM;Harper, IG;Qureshi, MS;Motallebzadeh, R;Willis, R;Saeb-Parsy, K;Bolton, EM;Bradley, JA;Pettigrew, GJ;

MHC alloantigen is recognized by two pathways: directly, intact on donor cells, or indirectly, as self-restricted allopeptide. The duration of each pathway, and its relative contribution to allograft vasculopathy, remain unclear. Using a murine model of chronic allograft rejection, we report that direct-pathway CD4 T cell alloresponses, as well as indirect-pathway responses against MHC class II alloantigen, are curtailed by rapid elimination of donor hematopoietic antigen-presenting cells. In contrast, persistent presentation of epitope resulted in continual division and less-profound contraction of the class I allopeptide-specific CD4 T cell population, with approximately 10,000-fold more cells persisting than following acute allograft rejection. This expanded population nevertheless displayed sub-optimal anamnestic responses and was unable to provide co-stimulation-independent help for generating alloantibody. Indirect-pathway CD4 T cell responses are heterogeneous. Appreciation that responses against particular alloantigens dominate at late time points will likely inform development of strategies aimed at improving transplant outcomes.