The effects of immunosuppressive agents on T cell function have been well characterized but virtually nothing is known about the effects of renal transplantation on human dendritic cells (DCs). With the use of flow cytometry, we studied the kinetics of myeloid and plasmacytoid DCs in peripheral blood of 24 kidney allograft recipients before and after transplantation, and in 23 donors before and after kidney donation. All patients were treated with tacrolimus, mycophenolate mofetil and prednisone. Surgery resulted in a strong decline in the number of myeloid and plasmacytoid DCs, both in kidney donors and in their recipients. However, in donors this effect was transient, as the numbers of both DC subsets had normalized completely by the third postoperative month. In contrast, the recovery of myeloid DC counts in kidney transplant recipients was only incomplete at the end of the 3-month follow-up, despite tapering of immunosuppression. The seven patients who required additional immunosuppressive treatment because of acute rejection experienced an even more marked decrease in DC counts in the early postoperative period compared with patients who remained rejection-free. Surgical procedures markedly affect the numbers of circulating myeloid and plasmacytoid DCs. Immunosuppressive drugs have important additional in vivo effects on this cell type and impair the reconstitution of the myeloid DC subset in peripheral blood after renal transplantation.

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Clinical and Experimental Immunology
Department of Surgery

Hesselink, D., Vaessen, L., Hop, W., Schoordijk-Verschoor, W., IJzermans, J., Baan, C., & Weimar, W. (2005). The effects of renal transplantation on circulating dendritic cells. Clinical and Experimental Immunology, 140(2), 384–393. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2249.2005.02755.x