T cell recognition of MHC molecules initiates a cascade of events resulting in allograft rejection. CTLs damage the graft by targeting nonself-MHC class I molecules. We and others have previously shown that small synthetic peptides corresponding to regions of certain MHC class I molecules can inhibit the CTL response against MHC class I alloantigens in vitro. Here we report that rat heart allografts survived survived indefinitely when transplanted into recipients treated with a synthetic peptide corresponding to residues 75-84 of (B7.75-84) in combination with a subtherapeutic dose of cyclosporine A. Furthermore, this treatment induced long-term donor-specific tolerance that was mediated by anergic cells, indicating that such peptides may have potential as therapeutics for human organ transplantation.

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