Innovative tolerogenic protocols in transplantation would take advantage of the development of new tools capable of evaluating the impact of these treatments on the immune system. These assays have potential for clinical application. Currently, many of these studies are based on the analysis of peripheral lymph nodes and blood-derived cells, where the percentage of alloantigen-specific cells can be low or even unpredictable. We combined a laser capture microdissection (LCM) technique with real-time PCR (RT-PCR) to evaluate gene profile of islet-infiltrating lymphocytes. Donor Lewis rats islets were transplanted under the kidney capsule in diabetic Brown Norway rats. Administration of anti-LFA1 mAb or anti-CD28 F(Ab)' was able to prolong islet survival, while the combined treatment resulted in indefinite survival. The analysis of gene expression profile for IL-2, IFN-gamma, and IL-10 production of graft-infiltrating cells revealed high IL-2, IFN-gamma, and IL-10 in untreated rats; on the contrary, the combined treatment selectively abrogated IL-2- and IFN-gamma-producing cells infiltrate. The comparison between cytokine profile in periphery (even during an allogenic extra stimulus) and in the graft revealed the dichotomy between graft and peripheral cytokine assessment. We thus propose that direct analysis of graft-infiltrating cells should be used whenever possible to evaluate the effects of a new immunomodulatory protocol.
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