Immunological tolerance to semiallogeneic fetuses is necessary to achieving successful first pregnancy and permitting subsequent pregnancies with the same father. Paradoxically, pregnancy is an important cause of sensitization, resulting in the accelerated rejection of offspring-matched allografts. The underlying basis for divergent outcomes following reencounter of the same alloantigens on transplanted organs versus fetuses in postpartum females is incompletely understood. Using a mouse model that allows concurrent tracking of endogenous fetus-specific T and B cell responses in a single recipient, we show that semiallogeneic pregnancies simultaneously induce fetus-specific T cell tolerance and humoral sensitization. Pregnancy-induced antibodies, but not B cells, impeded transplantation tolerance elicited by costimulation blockade to offspring-matched cardiac grafts. Remarkably, in B cell–deficient mice, allogeneic pregnancy enabled the spontaneous acceptance of fetus-matched allografts. The presence of pregnancy-sensitized B cells that cannot secrete antibodies at the time of heart transplantation was sufficient to precipitate rejection and override pregnancy-established T cell tolerance. Thus, while induction of memory B cells and alloantibodies by pregnancies establishes formidable barriers to transplant success for multigravid women, our observations raise the possibility that humoral desensitization will not only improve transplantation outcomes, but also reveal an unexpected propensity of multiparous recipients to achieve tolerance to offspring-matched allografts.
Ashley N. Suah, Dong-Kha V. Tran, Stella H.W. Khiew, Michael S. Andrade, Jared M. Pollard, Dharmendra Jain, James S. Young, Dengping Yin, Geetha Chalasani, Maria-Luisa Alegre, Anita S. Chong