Intestinal graft versus native liver cytokine expression in a rat model of intestinal transplantation with and without donor-specific cell augmentation

Brett Levay-Young, Susanne E. Gruessner, Jeffrey D. Shearer, Song Cheol Kim, Raouf E. Nahkleh, Rainer W.G. Gruessner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background. Immunomodulatory strategies such as donor-specific bone marrow or blood transfusions have been used to promote engraftment after intestinal transplants. We previously showed that delivery of donor antigen via the portal vein can effectively reduce the rate of intestinal graft rejection. The purpose of our current study was to investigate the impact of donor-specific cell augmentation (blood versus bone marrow) via the portal vein on cytokine expression in intestinal grafts versus native livers. Materials and methods. We performed heterotopic small intestinal transplants between male Brown-Norway (donor) and female Lewis (recipient) rats. We studied 10 groups according to [1] the type of donor-specific cell augmentation and [2] the use and dose of immunosuppressive therapy. For cell augmentation, donor-specific blood or bone marrow was transfused via the donor portal vein immediately before graft implantation. For immunosuppression, tacrolimus was used post-transplant at a high or low dose. Control rats received neither immunosuppression nor cell augmentation. Tissue samples for histological assessment were obtained at designated time points. RNA was extracted from intestinal graft and native liver biopsies for cytokine measurements (IL-1 α, IL-1 β, IL-2, IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IFN-γ, TNF-α, and TNF-β). Chimerism levels were determined using Q-PCR analysis. Results. Without concurrent immunosuppression, neither portal donor-specific blood nor bone marrow transfusion reduced the rate of rejection. With immunosuppression, outcome was significantly better after portal donor-specific blood (versus bone marrow) transfusion. Irrespective of the type of donor-specific cell augmentation, severe rejection caused strong cytokine expression in the grafts of IL-1 α, IL-1 β, IFN-γ, and TNF-α; in the native livers, mainly of TNF-α (with IFN-γ showing hardly any increase). In general, rejection caused stronger cytokine expression in the grafts than in the native livers. Mild rejection correlated well with strong intragraft expression of IL-6, TNF-α, and TNF-β (early rejection markers); severe rejection with IL-1 α, IL-1 β, IFN-γ, and TNF-α (late rejection markers). In addition to cell augmentation per se, the type of cell augmentation also had an impact on cytokine expression in both grafts and native livers. Cell-augmented (versus tacrolimus-treated) rats showed hardly any differences in intragraft cytokine expression, but the expression of almost all cytokines was significantly stronger in the native livers. With immunosuppression, bone marrow infusion increased intragraft cytokine expression of IL-1 α, IL-1 β, IFN-γ, and TNF α, as well as liver cytokine expression of IL-1 β, compared to blood transfusion. This finding reflected the more advanced rejection stages in the bone marrow infused group; different types of donor-specific cell augmentation had similar effects on liver cytokine expression. In the absence of myoablative therapy, chimerism levels were low, in both cell-augmented and non-cell-augmented groups. Conclusions. Rejection and donor-specific cell augmentation independently causes differences in intragraft versus native liver cytokine expression after intestinal transplants. Portal donor-specific blood transfusion, as compared with donor-specific bone marrow infusion, lowered the incidence of rejection and diminished intragraft cytokine up-regulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)78-89
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2003


  • Cytokines
  • Donor-specific blood transfusion
  • Hepatic conditioning
  • Intestinal transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


Dive into the research topics of 'Intestinal graft versus native liver cytokine expression in a rat model of intestinal transplantation with and without donor-specific cell augmentation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this