Expression patterns of regulatory T-cell markers in accepted and rejected nonhuman primate kidney allografts
The identification of FOXP3 expressing cells in recipients of an allograft, in particular inside the graft itself, may help to define criteria for immunosuppressive drug withdrawal. We therefore examined expression patterns of several regulatory T-cell (Treg) markers in kidney biopsies and kidney tissues taken at the time of graft rejection from monkeys treated with αCD40, αCD86, CsA, a combination of these or after drug withdrawal. In advanced stages of rejection, organized multifocal nodular infiltrates, with mature dendritic cells, T cells and B cells could be found. In contrast, interstitial infiltrates contain more macrophages, less T cells and few B cells. Cells expressing FOXP3, CD25 and CTLA-4 were mainly found in nodular infiltrates of rejected tissue samples. A significant correlation was found between the percentage FOXP3+cells and markers for rejection, i.e. creatinine levels and Banff interstitial and tubular infiltrate scores. The type of immunosuppression did not influence the percentage of cells expressing Treg markers. Three animals with prolonged drug-free survival showed low numbers of FOXP3+cells. We conclude that the presence of intragraft FOXP3+cells is not confined to tolerated grafts, but should be considered as part of the normal immune response during rejection.