Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I antigen is a potent stimulus for alloimmune responses and is the principal immunologic target mediating acute cellular rejection of allografts. Using a method of direct in vivo gene transfer of cDNA encoding donor type MHC class I, we showed in a rat model that recipient muscle could express the transferred MHC class I cDNA, resulting in alloimmunization of the recipient. This was most graphically demonstrated by accelerated rejection of cardiac allografts expressing the same MHC class I as encoded by the immunizing cDNA. We now report the use of the particle-mediated gene transfer via a gene gun to transfer MHC class I, as well as cytokine gene expression vectors, into rat skin. Compared to intramuscular injection, gene gun transfer to skin resulted in more efficient immunization. Donor-specific cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) responsiveness and antibody levels increased. Furthermore, coexpression of certain cytokine genes with the MHC class I cDNA modulated the immune response. Specifically, coimmunization with IL-10 cDNA abrogated immunity to allo-MHC class I, while coimmunization with GM-CSF cDNA enhanced it. The influence of expression of these genes in skin was demonstrated by alteration of donor cardiac allograft survival. This model is useful for induction and modulation of alloimmune responses and may be used to develop gene therapy strategies to modify them.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy