New clues found to preventing lung transplant rejection

Science Codex


Organ transplant patients routinely receive drugs that stop their immune systems from attacking newly implanted hearts, livers, kidneys or lungs, which the body sees as foreign.

But new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis suggests that broadly dampening the immune response, long considered crucial to transplant success, may encourage lung transplant rejection.

In a surprising discovery, the researchers found that newly transplanted lungs in mice were more likely to be rejected if key immune cells were missing, a situation that simulates what happens when patients take immunosuppressive drugs.

These long-lived memory T cells are primed to "remember" pathogens that infiltrate the body and quickly trigger an immune response during subsequent encounters. In heart, liver and kidney transplants, knocking down memory T cells with immunosuppressive drugs helps to ensure that the immune system recognizes a new organ as the body's own.
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