Despite major histocompatibility complex incompatibility, liver transplants from Lewis rats to dark agouti (DA) rats survive indefinitely without immunosuppression, and the studies we report sought the mechanism(s) responsible for this. At 1 year, most of the liver reacted positively to host anti-DA antibody. When small (50%) grafts were transplanted, recruitment was more rapid because most of the organ assumed the host phenotype at 3 months. After transplantation, the Y chromosome was detected in the hepatocytes of XX to XY grafts by both in situ hybridization and polymerase chain reaction. Further, livers from transgenic Lewis rats carrying strong green fluorescent protein (GFP) markers lost the marker with time after transplantation to DA, GFP-negative hosts. Few liver cells contained the Y chromosome in syngeneic XX to XY liver grafts or when the hosts of Lewis XX to DA XY allografts were treated with cyclosporine A at 10 mg/kg/day. This dosage also impeded enlargement of the liver at 10 days. Using GFP-positive XX Lewis donors transplanted to GFP-negative XY DA hosts, we found little Y DNA in GFP-positive cells at 10 days. Host-derived OV-6-positive and c-kit-positive, albumin-positive cells were present at 3-10 days, but cells with the CD34 marker were less common and some clearly still had the donor phenotype at 10 days. Cells positive for chemokine cysteine-X-cysteine receptor-4 increased with time and were abundant 1month after transplantation. We conclude: (1) extrahepatic cells can differentiate into liver tissues; (2) regenerative stimuli accelerate stem cell recruitment; (3) both regeneration and recruitment are impeded by cyclosporine A immunosuppression, and (4) donor GFPpositive cells contained little host Y chromosome after transplantation, suggesting that cell fusion was uncommon and, therefore, unlikely to be the mechanism leading to the changes in genotype and phenotype we observed.
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