Journal of Immunology vol:166 issue:3 pages:1843-54
Successful grafting of vascularized xenografts (Xgs) depends on the ability to reliably induce both T cell-independent and -dependent immune tolerance. After temporary NK cell depletion, B cell suppression, and pretransplant infusion of donor Ags, athymic rats simultaneously transplanted with hamster heart and thymus Xgs developed immunocompetent rat-derived T cells that tolerated the hamster Xgs but provoked multiple-organ autoimmunity. The autoimmune syndrome was probably due to an insufficient development of tolerance for some rat organs; for example, it led to thyroiditis in the recipient rat thyroid, but not in simultaneously transplanted donor hamster thyroid. Moreover, grafting a mixed hamster/rat thymic epithelial cell graft could prevent the autoimmune syndrome. These experiments indicate that host-type thymic epithelial cells may be essential for the establishment of complete self-tolerance and that mixed host/donor thymus grafts may induce T cell xenotolerance while maintaining self-tolerance in the recipient.