Background/Purpose: In utero bone marrow transplantation can induce donor-specific tolerance to postnatal solid organ transplantation, although the mechanisms remain poorly defined. In this study, we investigated the role of clonal deletion and clonal anergy in the maintenance of tolerance in a murine model of in utero bone marrow transplantation. Methods: DBA/2 mice (Mlsa+) were used as donors of adult bone marrow, and 14-day-gestation fetal Balb/c mice (Mlsa-) were used as recipients. Tolerance was defined by donor-specific skin graft survival for more than 8 weeks. Clonal deletion was assessed by flow cytometry for Vβ6 T cell receptor usage. A tolerant animal demonstrating partial deletion of CD4+/Vβ6+ T cells and a nontolerant animal were selected for analysis of clonal anergy by a proliferation assay using plate-bound anti-Vβ6 antibody for stimulation with or without exogenous interleukin-2 (IL2). Results: Vβ6+ splenocytes constituted 6.32% of CD4+ T cells in the tolerant animal compared with 9.19% in the nontolerant animal, demonstrating incomplete clonal deletion in the tolerant animal. Stimulation with plate-bound anti-Vβ6 induced a good proliferative response in the nontolerant animal but a significantly attenuated response in the tolerant animal (P < .001), which was abrogated by the addition of IL2. Conclusions: In this murine model of in utero bone marrow transplantation, the tolerant state is characterized by partial clonal deletion of donor reactive T cells and clonal anergy of nondeleted donor reactive T cells. The anergic state can be abrogated by exogenous IL2, suggesting that the mechanism of anergy is a deficiency of IL2 production.
- Clonal anergy
- Clonal deletion
- In utero bone marrow transplantation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health