Bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS), a process of fibro-obliterative occlusion of the small airways in the transplanted lung, is the most common cause of lung transplant failure. We tested the role of cell-mediated immunity to collagen type V [col(V)] in this process. PBMC responses to col(II) and col(V) were monitored prospectively over a 7-year period. PBMCs from lung transplant recipients, but not from healthy controls or col(IV)-reactive Goodpasture’s syndrome patients after renal transplant, were frequently col(V) reactive. Col(V)-specific responses were dependent on both CD4+ T cells and monocytes and required both IL-17 and the monokines TNF-α and IL-1β. Strong col(V)-specific responses were associated with substantially increased incidence and severity of BOS. Incidences of acute rejection, HLA-DR mismatched transplants, and induction of HLA-specific antibodies in the transplant recipient were not as strongly associated with a risk of BOS. These data suggest that while alloimmunity initiates lung transplant rejection, de novo autoimmunity mediated by col(V)-specific Th17 cells and monocyte/macrophage accessory cells ultimately causes progressive airway obliteration.
William J. Burlingham, Robert B. Love, Ewa Jankowska-Gan, Lynn D. Haynes, Qingyong Xu, Joseph L. Bobadilla, Keith C. Meyer, Mary S. Hayney, Ruedi K. Braun, Daniel S. Greenspan, Bagavathi Gopalakrishnan, Junchao Cai, David D. Brand, Shigetoshi Yoshida, Oscar W. Cummings, David S. Wilkes