The interactions of alloreactive T lymphocytes with the vascular endothelium were studied in an in vitro model of lymphocyte adherence to cultured human arterial endothelial cell (HAEC) monolayers. Donor-primed lymphocytes (DPL) were shown to have significantly greater adherence to donor HAEC than were third-party primed lymphocytes. Limiting dilution analysis of adherent DPL showed an enrichment of donor-reactive lymphocytes compared with nonadherent DPL. This study examines the allospecific nature of this increased lymphocyte adherence. HAEC constitutively express class I HLA Ag and can be induced by IFN-gamma to express class II Ag. DPL adherence to class I+ HAEC was inhibited only in the presence of mAb directed against class I Ag. DPL adherence to class I+ and class II+ HAEC was inhibited in the presence of mAb directed against class I and class II Ag. Class I- and class II-specific adherence was also shown to involve CD8 and CD4 molecules, respectively, whereas lymphocyte function-associated Ag do not appear to play a major role in long term alloreactive lymphocyte adherence to HAEC. These findings suggest that alloreactive lymphocyte adherence to HAEC is mediated by two mechanisms. One is based on allorecognition, primarily of HLA Ag, and the other is related to presumably non-Ag-specific interactions between activated lymphocytes and the vascular endothelium. The studies presented provide evidence to suggest that HLA-specific lymphocyte adherence to endothelium may significantly contribute to the development of alloreactive lymphocyte infiltrates within the allograft.

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