Purpose: The failure of in utero transplantation in immune-competent recipients suggests the existence of a fetal immune barrier. The importance of donor major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I expression in the induction of prenatal tolerance remains undefined. We hypothesized that donor cell MHC class I expression facilitates engraftment in prenatal allogeneic recipients rather than promoting immune rejection. Methods: B6.Ly5.2 (class I+) or B6.TAP-/- (class I-) murine fetal liver cells were transplanted into age-matched allogeneic fetal recipients. Survival to weaning and subsequent growth was assessed. Engraftment rates and peripheral blood chimerism levels were measured serially. Results: The presence or absence of class I expression did not affect survival or growth of recipients and no graft-vs-host disease developed. Allogeneic recipients of B6.Ly5.2 cells exhibited significantly higher levels of donor hematopoietic chimerism when compared to recipients of B6.TAP-/- cells (27% + 10% vs 11% + 8%; P = .004) that deteriorated further over time. Conclusions: Donor class I MHC antigen expression is essential for stable long-term engraftment and maintenance of donor-specific tolerance. Further studies are needed to better characterize the role of the fetal innate immune system in prenatal allotransplantation.
- In utero transplantation
- MHC class I
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health