The Journal Of Clinical Investigation
Tertiary lymphoid organs are aggregates of immune and stromal cells including high endothelial venules and lymphatic vessels that resemble secondary lymphoid organs and can be induced at nonlymphoid sites during inflammation. The function of lymphatic vessels within tertiary lymphoid organs remains poorly understood. During lung transplant tolerance, Foxp3+ cells accumulate in tertiary lymphoid organs that are induced within the pulmonary grafts and are critical for the local downregulation of alloimmune responses. Here, we showed that tolerant lung allografts could induce and maintain tolerance of heterotopic donor-matched hearts through pathways that were dependent on the continued presence of the transplanted lung. Using lung retransplantation, we showed that Foxp3+ cells egressed from tolerant lung allografts via lymphatics and were recruited into donor-matched heart allografts. Indeed, survival of the heart allografts was dependent on lymphatic drainage from the tolerant lung allograft to the periphery. Thus, our work indicates that cellular trafficking from tertiary lymphoid organs regulates immune responses in the periphery. We propose that these findings have important implications for a variety of disease processes that are associated with the induction of tertiary lymphoid organs.