Background. Donor-specific immunosuppression is important in transplantation surgery. We examined the immunosuppressive effects of donor splenocytes administered postoperatively into the jejunum and the effect of such treatment on the survival of heterotopic vascularized cardiac allograft in rats. Methods. Lewis (LEW, RT-11) recipient rats were treated with 5 x 107 Brown Norway (BN, RT-1(n)) donor splenocytes for 5 days orally, intrajejunally, or subcutaneously. The immune responses of LEW treated with either donor BN or irrelevant Wistar King A (WKA, RT-1(k)) were examined by mixed lymphocyte reaction (MLR) and delayed type hypersensitivity (DTH). The effect of postoperative enteral treatment for 6 days with suboptimal dose of cyclosporine (CsA) on heterotopic cardiac allotransplantation was investigated. We measured the production of cytokines (interleukin [IL]-2, IL-4, IL-10, and interferon-γ [IFN-γ]) in the supernatant of MLR by ELISA. The effect of intravenous dose of GdCl3 to block Kupffer cell function was also investigated before the administration of splenocytes. Results. MLR and DTH responses were strongly inhibited in a BN-restricted manner after jejunal or oral feeding of donor BN splenocytes but not by subcutaneous injection or injections by any routs of WKA splenocytes. The effect was more prominent in jejunal than oral feeding. Immunosuppression was associated with a significant inhibition of IL-2 and IFN-γ production and increased concentrations of IL-4 and IL-10 in MLR supernatants. Immunosuppression was abrogated by pretreatment with GdCl3. Postoperative intrajejunal feeding of donor splenocytes with CsA significantly prolonged cardiac allograft survival time (18.7±7.3 vs. 9.9±1.7 days for control animals). Conclusion. Jejunal administration of splenocytes produces donor-specific immunosuppression and prolongs cardiac allograft survival. Our results suggest the involvement of T helper (Th) 2 cytokines and Kupffer cells in the induction of immune hyporesponsiveness, and indicate that this method represents a unique approach for induction of donor-specific immunosuppression.
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