Objective: Dendritic cell (DC) mediated allo-antigen presentation to host antigen specific T-lymphocytes initiates acute allograft rejection. We investigated peripheral blood DC (PBDC) incidence and DC subset reconstitution in relation to histological diagnosis of acute cellular rejection (AR) and administration of rejection therapy after clinical heart transplantation (post-HTx). Methods: Venous blood from 20 HTx recipients under standard immunosuppression was collected during serial endomyocardial biopsy (EMB) prior to administration of rejection therapy in a 9-month follow-up post-HTx. Echocardiographic assessment of allograft function during EMB was performed to distinguish clinical necessity for rejection therapy within histologically rejecting patients (R). Myeloid (mDC) and plasmacytoid (pDC) subsets identified by flow-cytometry were analysed for different ISHLT rejection grades. Circulating PBDC incidence and mDC/pDC ratio were compared sequentially between non-rejecting (NR) recipients and R patients treated (3A+) or not-treated (3A-) with rejection therapy during follow-up. Results: Eleven samples from biopsy-proven AR episodes (AR+: ISHLT≥3) were compared to 89 samples from non-rejection episodes (AR-: ISHLT grade 0, n=52; grade 1, n=29; grade 2, n=8). We observed an inverse correlation of mDCs (P<0.05) but not pDCs with increasing rejection grade. PBDC incidence and mDC/pDC ratio were low in blood samples obtained during AR (P<0.05 and P<0.01, respectively). Both PBDCs and mDC/pDC ratio decreased during each AR episode (P<0.05). Comparison of 3A+ and 3A- rejectors with NR patients after 12 weeks post-HTx revealed lower PBDC incidence (P<0.01) and mDC/pDC ratio (P<0.05) for R patients, independent of rejection therapy. Conclusions: Defective DC subset reconstitution by dendritic cell profiling identifies patients at risk for AR after 3 months post-HTx. This finding may contribute to further optimization of immunosuppressive treatment strategies after clinical heart transplantation.

Dendritic cell reconstitution, Heart transplantation, Rejection
dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejcts.2004.12.032, hdl.handle.net/1765/67725
European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery
Department of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery

Athanassopoulos, P, Vaessen, L.M.B, Balk, A.H.M.M, Takkenberg, J.J.M, Maat, A.W.P.M, Weimar, W, & Bogers, A.J.J.C. (2005). Impaired circulating dendritic cell reconstitution identifies rejecting recipients after clinical heart transplantation independent of rejection therapy. In European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery (Vol. 27, pp. 783–789). doi:10.1016/j.ejcts.2004.12.032