Alloreactive T cells may be activated via a direct or an indirect antigen presentation pathway. We questioned whether the frequency of interferon (IFN)-γ producing cells determined by enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) assay is an effective tool to monitor the direct and/or indirect presentation pathway. Secondly, we wondered whether early and late acute rejection (AR) are associated with both pathways. Before (n = 15), during (n = 18) and after (n = 16) a period of AR, peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) samples were tested from 13 heart transplant recipients. The direct presentation pathway was always present. The number of IFN-γ producing cells reactive to this pathway increased significantly (P = 0.04) during AR and the number decreased (P = 0.005) after AR therapy. In contrast, the indirect allogeneic presentation pathway was present in only eight of 18 AR samples. When the indirect presentation pathway was detectable, it increased significantly during AR. Five of eight of these AR occurred more than 6 months after transplantation. The ELISPOT assay, enumerating alloreactive IFN-γ producing cells, is a valuable tool to determine the reactivity via both the direct and the indirect presentation pathway. The direct presentation pathway always plays a role in AR, while the indirect pathway contributes especially to late AR.

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Clinical and Experimental Immunology
Department of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery

van Besouw, N.M, Zuijderwijk, J, Vaessen, L.M.B, Balk, A.H.M.M, Maat, A.W.P.M, van der Meide, P.H, & Weimar, W. (2005). The direct and indirect allogeneic presentation pathway during acute rejection after human cardiac transplantation. Clinical and Experimental Immunology, 141(3), 534–540. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2249.2005.02871.x