The requirement for cytotoxic T lymphocytes during allograft rejection is controversial. We previously demonstrated that CD8+ T cells are not necessary for allograft rejection or for the induction of apoptosis in rat small intestinal transplantation. In this study, we examined the mechanisms of apoptosis and rejection after liver transplantation in the absence of CD8+ T cells.Either Lewis or dark agouti rat liver grafts were transplanted into Lewis recipients to create syngeneic and allogeneic combinations. CD8+ T cells were depleted in an additional allogeneic group by treatment with OX-8 mAb on day -1 and day 1 after liver transplant.Apoptosis and rejection were observed in both the CD8+ T cell-depleted allogeneic and allogeneic grafts by hematoxylin and eosin staining, terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick-end labeling staining, and radiolabeled-annexin V in vivo imaging. Granzyme B and FasL were expressed in all allogeneic transplants, including those depleted of CD8+ T cells, indicating that a mononuclear cell other than a CD8+ T cell can be the source of these molecules during allograft rejection. Activation of the caspase cascade was detected in all rejecting allografts. Caspases 3, 8, and 9 were activated at similar significantly elevated levels in both allogeneic and CD8+ T cell-depleted liver grafts.These data indicate that in the absence of CD8+ T cells an alternative pathway, associated with granzyme B and FasL expression and activation of the caspase cascade, can mediate apoptosis and graft rejection.
View details for Web of Science ID 000169753800020
View details for PubMedID 11455265