Background. Multilineage chimerism and long-term acceptance of renal allografts has been produced in non-human primates conditioned with a nonmyeloablative regimen. Our study was undertaken to evaluate the immunological and pathological status of long-term survivors and to define the role of splenectomy and of the primarily vascularized kidney in the regimen Method. Monkeys were treated with the basic regimen, including: total body irradiation, thymic irradiation, antithymocyte globulin, donor bone marrow transplantation and a 4-week course of cyclosporine after which no further immunosuppression was given. They were divided into four groups according to the timing of kidney transplantation (KTx) and splenectomy as follows; group A (n=13): KTx and splenectomy on the day of donor bone marrow transplantation (day 0); group B (n=3): KTx on day 0 without splenectomy; group C (n=7): splenectomy on day 0 but delayed KTx until 3 to 16 weeks post- donor bone marrow transplantation; group D (n=3): both splenectomy and KTx delayed until day 120 post-donor bone marrow transplantation. Results. In group A, 11 of 13 monkeys developed chimerism and 9 monkeys achieved long- term survival of 4 to 70 months without evidence of chronic vascular rejection. Alloantibodies were detected in only one long-term survivor. In contrast, all three monkeys in group B developed alloantibodies and rejected their allografts. In group C, long-term survival without alloantibody production was observed in two of three monkeys that had developed chimerism. In group D, all three recipients were sensitized and rejected the kidney allografts rapidly after transplantation. Conclusions. 1) Production of anti- donor antibody was prevented in most recipients that developed mixed chimerism in the regimens with splenectomy at the time of donor bone marrow transplantation. 2) If splenectomy is not included in the initial conditioning regimen, induction of B cell tolerance is less likely and the result is late onset of alloantibody production and allograft rejection. 3) Immediate transplantation of the kidney at the time of recipient conditioning is not essential for induction of donor specific hyporesponsiveness by bone marrow transplantation.
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