Based on successful induction of donor-specific unresponsiveness by alloantigenic stimulation in several animal models of acute rejection, we hypothesized that similar immune manipulations would also inhibit the evolution of chronic rejection and transplant vasculopathy. To induce immune tolerance, DA rats received a PVG heart allograft and were immunosuppressed with cyclosporine for 30 d. At day 100 the animals were challenged with a PVG aortic allograft after either 1 or 18 h of cold ischemia. 8 wk after the aortic transplantation, the grafts were investigated for morphological changes, infiltrating cells, apoptosis, and Fas-Fas ligand expression. Control allografts showed advanced transplant arteriosclerosis, whereas tolerance-induced aortic allografts displayed reduced neointimal formation, less medial atrophy, fewer apoptotic cells, and fewer Fas- and FasL-expressing cells. Prolonged ischemic storage time did not profoundly alter the morphological changes of the allografts. Fas expression was found in T cells, macrophages, vascular smooth muscle cells, and endothelial cells, whereas FasL was expressed mainly by T cells and macrophages. FasL mRNA expression was evident throughout the entire allograft wall. In conclusion, induction of allospecific tolerance can effectively prevent transplant arteriosclerosis. Cold ischemia damage does not abrogate the beneficial effect of tolerance, but creates a separate identity of mainly endothelial lesions. Furthermore, Fas-mediated apoptosis appears to be involved in the pathological lesions seen in chronic rejection.
L M Akyürek, C Johnsson, D Lange, P Georgii-Hemming, E Larsson, B C Fellström, K Funa, G Tufveson