Antibody-mediated rejection is a major complication in renal transplantation. The pathologic manifestations of acute antibody-mediated rejection that has progressed to functional impairment of a renal transplant have been defined in clinical biopsy specimens. However, the initial stages of the process are difficult to resolve with the unavoidable variables of clinical studies. We devised a model of renal transplantation to elucidate the initial stages of humoral rejection. Kidneys were orthotopically allografted to immunodeficient mice. After perioperative inflammation subsided, donor-specific alloantibodies were passively transferred to the recipient. Within 1 hour after a single transfer of antibodies, C4d was deposited diffusely on capillaries, and von Willebrand factor released from endothelial cells coated intravascular platelet aggregates. Platelet-transported inflammatory mediators platelet factor 4 and serotonin accumulated in the graft at 100- to 1000-fold higher concentrations compared with other platelet-transported chemokines. Activated platelets that expressed P-selectin attached to vascular endothelium and macrophages. These intragraft inflammatory changes were accompanied by evidence of acute endothelial injury. Repeated transfers of alloantibodies over 1 week sustained high levels of platelet factor 4 and serotonin. Platelet depletion decreased platelet mediators and altered the accumulation of macrophages. These data indicate that platelets augment early inflammation in response to donor-specific antibodies and that platelet-derived mediators may be markers of evolving alloantibody responses.
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