The overall goal of proposal is to develop novel therapies for improvement of long-term outcomes of renal and cardiac transplants in high and low risk recipients. 1. Cardiac Transplantation: We will test the hypothesis that B cells, by promoting indirect T cell alloreactivity and humoral alloimmunity, play a critical role in development of chronic allograft vasculopathy (CAV). We propose a multicenter, randomized, and placebo controlled trial where 300 primary heart transplant recipients with a PRA of <10% will be randomized to conventional immunosuppression (tacrolimus, MMF and rapid steroid taper) versus induction therapy with anti-CD20 mAb (Rituxan) plus conventional immunosuppression. The primary endpoint is development of CAV by IVUS at one year post-transplant. This trial will be conducted in collaboration with Dr. Peter Heeger who will also be proposing a separate second pilot cardiac trail to desensitize highly sensitized recipients from the same cardiac consortium. 2. Kidney Transplantation: 2A. We will test the hypothesis that interruption of B cell maturation by TACI-lg (a fusion protein antagonist of BAFF and APRIL) will reduce acute rejection rates and improve outcome in highly sensitized renal transplant recipients. We propose a multicenter, randomized, and placebo controlled trial in highly sensitized (PRA >50%) deceased or live donor renal transplant recipients that have undergone a desensitization protocol and/or received a negative cross- matched kidney. We will enroll 200 subjects randomized into two groups. All patients will receive thymoglobulin and tacrolimus, MMF, and steroids. The experimental group will also be treated with TACI-lg. The primary endpoint will be biopsy-proven acute rejection rates (cellular/antibody mediated) at 1 year post- transplant. Recipients will be followed for 24 months to determine impact of therapy on long-term outcome. 2B. We will test the hypothesis that strategies that limit effector/memory T cell alloreactivity and expand regulatory T cells in vivo will allow minimization of immunosuppression to a single agent in low risk renal transplant recipients. We propose a pilot safety and feasibility study with initial induction with thymoglobulin followed by monthly injections (x4) of low dose thymoglobulin at months 2-5 post-transplant, LEA29Y (belatacept) and MMF. A control group will receive thymoglobulin induction plus tacrolimus, MMF and rapid steroid taper. We plan to enroll 48 subjects with 3:1 randomization in the therapeutic and control arms, respectively. The primary end point is percentage of CD4+CD25+FOXP3+ Tregs in the peripheral blood at 6 months post-transplant. Based on specific clinical criteria recipients in the experimental arm will then undergo withdrawal of MMF starting at 1 year post-transplant. 3. All subjects in all three trials will be followed with extensive mechanistic studies to test the overall hypothesis that the interventional therapeutic protocols described above are associated with measurable changes in the phenotype of T cells (effector/memory and Tregs), T cell alloreactivity against donor alloantigen, humoral alloimmunity, phenotypic differentiation of T and B cells, as well as molecular mediators of acute and chronic allograft dysfunction. We will test specific hypotheses and assays tailored to the relevant clinical protocol in cardiac and renal transplant recipients with the goal of understanding the immunobiology and mechanisms of therapy, and to ultimately develop novel biomarkers to predict short- and long-term outcomes in these recipients. Relevance: As required by the RFA we propose novel therapeutic strategies in two different groups of organ transplant recipients, kidney and heart, accompanied by extensive mechanistic studies to better understand the immunobiology of the specific disease process, the mechanisms of action of our therapeutic interventions, as well as develop novel biomarkers. Our studies have major implications for improving outcomes of solid organ transplant recipients.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Research Project--Cooperative Agreements (U01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZAI1-SV-I (M1))
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Hayes, Deborah
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Brigham and Women's Hospital
United States
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Javaheri, Ali; Molina, Maria; Zamani, Payman et al. (2016) Cholesterol efflux capacity of high-density lipoprotein correlates with survival and allograft vasculopathy in cardiac transplant recipients. J Heart Lung Transplant 35:1295-1302
Starling, R C; Stehlik, J; Baran, D A et al. (2016) Multicenter Analysis of Immune Biomarkers and Heart Transplant Outcomes: Results of the Clinical Trials in Organ Transplantation-05 Study. Am J Transplant 16:121-36
Batal, Ibrahim; De Serres, Sacha A; Safa, Kassem et al. (2015) Dendritic Cells in Kidney Transplant Biopsy Samples Are Associated with T Cell Infiltration and Poor Allograft Survival. J Am Soc Nephrol 26:3102-13
Batal, Ibrahim; De Serres, Sacha A; Mfarrej, Bechara G et al. (2014) Glomerular inflammation correlates with endothelial injury and with IL-6 and IL-1β secretion in the peripheral blood. Transplantation 97:1034-42
Rychert, Jenna; Danziger-Isakov, Lara; Yen-Lieberman, Belinda et al. (2014) Multicenter comparison of laboratory performance in cytomegalovirus and Epstein-Barr virus viral load testing using international standards. Clin Transplant 28:1416-23
Reed, E F; Rao, P; Zhang, Z et al. (2013) Comprehensive assessment and standardization of solid phase multiplex-bead arrays for the detection of antibodies to HLA. Am J Transplant 13:1859-70
Daly, Kevin P; Seifert, Michael E; Chandraker, Anil et al. (2013) VEGF-C, VEGF-A and related angiogenesis factors as biomarkers of allograft vasculopathy in cardiac transplant recipients. J Heart Lung Transplant 32:120-8
Chandraker, Anil; Strom, Terry B (2013) Transplantation: a new molecular approach to the diagnosis of acute rejection. Nat Rev Nephrol 9:631-2
Ashoor, I; Najafian, N; Korin, Y et al. (2013) Standardization and cross validation of alloreactive IFNγ ELISPOT assays within the clinical trials in organ transplantation consortium. Am J Transplant 13:1871-9
Boenisch, O; Lopez, M; Elyaman, W et al. (2012) Ex vivo expansion of human Tregs by rabbit ATG is dependent on intact STAT3-signaling in CD4⁺ T cells and requires the presence of monocytes. Am J Transplant 12:856-66

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