A new discovery by London biologists may yield new ways of handling the problem of transplant rejection. In a research article published in the November 2008 print issue of The FASEB Journal (http://www.
"The medical potential of this finding is enormous," says Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal, "Understanding molecular miscegenation should not only make transplantation more widespread and effective, but also shed light on how microbes disrupt our body's immune apparatus for distinguishing self from non-self."
The researchers made this discovery when they transplanted kidneys or hearts from one set of mice into another, with each set of mice having a different version of the molecule being studied. The researchers then conducted tests to see if the molecules were transferred. In the recipient mice, the donated kidneys or hearts and the host tissue expressed both types of molecules. This is the first time that this transfer has been shown to happen in a living system.
Wilson Wong, senior researcher on the study from King's College London, states that although the findings are tantalizing, they represent only a very primitive understanding of this phenomenon. Nevertheless, he hopes "that this study will lead to a better understanding of the immune system to benefit the development of new therapies in areas related to transplantation."
The FASEB Journal (http://www.
Article Details: Kathryn Brown, Steven H. Sacks, and Wilson Wong. Extensive and bidirectional transfer of major histocompatibility complex class II molecules between donor and recipient cells in vivo following solid organ transplantation. FASEB J. 2008 22: 3776-3784.