Many strategies have been proposed to induce tolerance to transplanted tissue in rodents; however, few if any have shown equal efficacy when tested in nonhuman primate transplant models. We hypothesized that a critical distinction between specific pathogen-free mice and nonhuman primates or human patients is their acquired immune history. Here, we show that a heterologous immune response — specifically, virally induced alloreactive memory — is a potent barrier to tolerance induction. A critical threshold of memory T cells is needed to promote rejection, and CD8+ “central” memory T cells are primarily responsible. Finally, treatment with deoxyspergualin, an inhibitor of NF-κB translocation, together with costimulation blockade, synergistically impairs memory T cell activation and promotes antigen-specific tolerance of memory. These data offer a potential explanation for the difficulty encountered when inducing tolerance in nonhuman primates and human patients and provide insight into the signaling pathways essential for memory T cell activation and function.


Andrew B. Adams, Matthew A. Williams, Thomas R. Jones, Nozomu Shirasugi, Megan M. Durham, Susan M. Kaech, E. John Wherry, Thandi Onami, J. Gibson Lanier, Kenneth E. Kokko, Thomas C. Pearson, Rafi Ahmed, Christian P. Larsen


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