Prolongation of skin allograft survival after neonatal injection of donor bone marrow and epidermal cells

François Petit, Alicia B. Minns, Jamal A. Nazzal, Shehan P. Hettiaratchy, Laurent A. Lantieri, Mark A. Randolph, W. P.Andrew Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Composite-tissue (e.g., hand allograft) allotransplantation is currently limited by the need for immunosuppression to prevent graft rejection. Inducing a state of tolerance in the recipient could potentially eliminate the need for immunosuppression but requires reprogramming of the immunological repertoire of the recipient. Skin is the most antigenic tissue in the body and is consistently refractory to tolerance induction regimens using bone marrow transplantation alone. It was hypothesized that tolerance to skin allografts could be induced in rats by injecting epidermal cells with bone marrow cells during the first 24 hours of life of the recipients. Brown Norway rats (RT1n) served as donors for the epidermal cells, bone marrow cells, and skin grafts. Epidermal cells were injected intraperitoneally and bone marrow cells were injected intravenously into Lewis (RT1l) newborn recipient rats. In control groups, recipients received saline solution with no cells (group I, n = 12), bone marrow cells only (group II, n = 15), or epidermal cells only (group III, n = 15). In the experimental group (group IV, n = 18), recipients received epidermal and bone marrow cells simultaneously. Skin grafts were transplanted from Brown Norway (RT1n) rats to the Lewis (RT1l) rats 8 weeks after cell injections. Skin grafts survived an average of 8.5 days in group I (10 grafts), 9.2 days in group II (12 grafts), and 12 days in group III (14 grafts). Grafts survived 15.5 days (8 to 26 days) in group IV (15 grafts). The difference was statistically significant (p < 0.05). Hair growth was observed in some accepted grafts in group IV but never in the control groups. This is the first report of prolonged survival of skin allografts in a rat model after epidermal and bone marrow cell injections. Survival prolongation was achieved across a major immunological barrier, without irradiation, myeloablation, or immunosuppression. It is concluded that the presentation of skin-specific antigens generated a temporary state of tolerance to the skin in the recipients that could have delayed the rejection of skin allografts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)270-276
Number of pages7
JournalPlastic and reconstructive surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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