Background. In a previously reported series of donor-specific bone marrow cell (DBMC) infusions in cadaver kidney transplant recipients, there appeared to be an improvement in long-term graft survival (6 years) and fewer chronic rejections, which correlated with increasing DBMC chimerism (≈1.4% in the iliac crest bone marrow compartment now at 6 years). Prompted by this, we embarked on a study of DBMC infusion in living-related donor (LRD) kidney transplant recipients. Methods. Between November 1996 and May 2000, 47 LRD kidney transplant recipients received donor iliac crest marrow (1.8 × 108±1.9 × 108 cells/kg body weight±SD) in a single infusion 4 days postoperatively. Either OKT3 (n=26) or daclizumab (n=21) were used for induction therapy, with maintenance tacrolimus, mycophenolate mofetil, and methylprednisolone immunosuppression. These recipients were prospectively compared with 39 noninfused LRD kidney transplants (control group), which received equivalent immunosuppression in the same time period. Clinical follow-up ranged from 19.0 months to 61.6 months (mean 33.2 months). Polymerase chain reaction-flow chimerism analysis and in vitro assays of immunoregulatory activity of chimeric cells were performed. Results. The incidence of acute rejection over this period of time was 10.6% and 10.3%, respectively (i.e., did not differ between groups). Immunosuppressive dosages were somewhat (but not statistically) lower over time in the DBMC group. Four-year actuarial patient and graft survival for the DBMC-infused group was 98% and 98%, and 98% and 95% for the control group, respectively (P=NS). DBMC infusion was well tolerated, with no increase in infectious episodes. DBMC chimerism in recipient iliac crest marrow has increased more rapidly than might be predicted from results previously seen in the cadaver group, despite four times fewer DBMC infused. DBMCs and (donor) peripheral blood mononuclear cells purified by immunobeads from recipient blood or bone marrow (recipient-derived donor cells) inhibited mixed leukocyte responses of the recipient to the donor more strongly than freshly obtained peripheral blood cells drawn from the donors or even compared with bone marrow cells aspirated from the donors in a previously reported group of experiments. Additionally, similarly purified recipient-derived recipient cells from the same chimeric recipient more strongly inhibited the same mixed leukocyte response reactions autologously than a large group of nonchimeric (autologous) bone marrow modulating cells in similar reactions. Conclusions. These observations confirm that an immunoregulatory process appears to have been generated by DBMC infusion, encouraging a further decrease in immunosuppressive dosing using such assays in the future.
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