Allospecific skin graft prolongation can be induced in mice using antithymocyte globulin and allospecific donor bone marrow cells (DBMC). This enhancement may be due to the persistence of chimeric cells of donor origin in the host. In this study, we systematically investigated DBMC-derived chimerism in various lymphoid and nonlymphoid tissues over time. To do this, transgenic mice were used as a source of DBMC to clearly distinguish chimerism due only to the injected DBMC. Chimerism in various tissues was assessed at several times points after DBMC infusion by polymerase chain reaction amplification of tissue DNA using transgene specific primers. A cDNA probe specific for the transgene was used to demonstrate DBMC-derived chimerism in polymerase chain reaction products by the method of Southern. Although chimerism was initially detectable in most tissues tested 1 day after DBMC infusion, the presence of chimeric cells generally diminished over time. At 4 weeks or longer, chimerism was consistently confined to recipient skin. Furthermore, the chimeric cells in recipient skin persisted even after the allograft was rejected. In contrast to chimerism in recipient skin, chimerism became undetectable in donor skin as early as 2 weeks after DBMC infusion. The loss of chimerism in donor skin showed a temporal correlation with a reduction of chimerism in host bone marrow and lymphoid tissues that preceded rejection in all experiments by a range of 7-14 days. The use of DBMC from transgenic mice allowed a unique opportunity to monitor the kinetics of DBMC-derived chimerism. The presence of chimerism in the skin of mice in temporal association with chronic allograft rejection suggests that chimerism per se is not a reliable index of allogeneic unresponsiveness.
ASJC Scopus subject areas