ABSTRACT: Innovative therapeutic strategies are needed to diminish the impact of harmful immunosuppression in transplantation. Dendritic cell (DC)-based therapy is a promising approach for induction of antigen-specific tolerance. Using a heart allograft model in rats, we analyzed the immunoregulatory mechanisms by which injection of autologous tolerogenic DCs (ATDCs) plus suboptimal immunosuppression promotes indefinite graft survival. Surprisingly, we determined that Interferon-gamma (IFNG), a cytokine expected to be propathogenic, was threefold increased in the spleen of tolerant rats. Importantly, its blockade led to allograft rejection [Mean Survival Time (MST) = 25.6 ± 4 days], showing that IFNG plays a critical role in immunoregulatory mechanisms triggered by ATDCs. IFNG was expressed by TCRαβ(+) CD3(+) CD4(-) CD8(-) NKRP1(-) cells (double negative T cells, DNT), which accumulated in the spleen of tolerant rats. Interestingly, ATDCs specifically induced IFNG production by DNT cells. ATDCs expressed the cytokinic chain Epstein-Barr virus-induced gene 3 (EBI3), an IL-12 family member. EBI3 blockade or knock-down through siRNA completely abolished IFNG expression in DNT cells. Finally, EBI3 blockade in vivo led to allograft rejection (MST = 36.8 ± 19.7 days), demonstrating for the first time a role for EBI3 in transplantation tolerance. Taken together our results have important implications in the rationalization of DC-based therapy in transplantation as well as in the patient immunomonitoring follow-up.
American Journal of Transplantation 07/2011; 11(10):2036-45. · 6.39 Impact Factor