We have shown in lung recipients that high levels of peripheral blood allogeneic microchimerism at 12 to 18 months posttransplant correlated with donor antigen-specific hyporeactivity (i.e., decreased proliferative response to donor antigen in MLC while response to 3rd-party cells remains unchanged); both parameters correlated with an obliterative bronchiolitis (OB)free state. We have expanded these studies to determine any association of sequential microchimerism levels with concomitant clinical events. In this preliminary study of 7 lung recipients, we used limiting-dilution PCR to quantify peripheral blood microchimerism at serial timepoints ranging from 3 to >48 months posttransplant. These levels were compared with a variety of immunologic and clinical parameters: acute rejection, CMV infection, OB, donor antigen-specific hyporeactivity, and pulmonary function. Pulmonary function was measured per the International Society of Heart and Lung Transplantation: 'current FEV1/baseline FEV1' (FEV1: forced expiratory volume in 1 second). Of the clinical parameters, the association between microchimerism and pulmonary function was the most striking. We observed dynamic patterns of peripheral microchimerism, which reflected the general rise and fall of FEV1. In all 7 recipients, chimerism and FEV1 were high very early posttransplant, then dropped at various rates and to various degrees. After its initial decline, microchimerism increased with FEV, for the 1 hyporesponsive recipient; for the other 6 recipients, both values declined. These results illustrate, for the first time, that the fluctuation of peripheral blood microchimerism levels is associated with the recipient's clinical condition.
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