Components of the innate immune system can contribute to impairment of long term allograft tolerance. However, the molecular activators that trigger the innate immune system to initiate allograft rejection are elusive. Our prior work demonstrates that signaling via MyD88 an adaptor protein downstream of most Toll like receptors on innate immune cells, prevents transplant tolerance. In addition, we have preliminary evidence to suggest that hyaluranan (HA) is an innate ligand that activates the MyD88 inflammatory pathway to initiate allograft rejection and transplant tolerance resistance. We hypothesize that differential HA expression levels in various tissues may explain why some organs, such as the skin, exhibit impaired transplant tolerance, while other tissues, e.g. cardiac allografts, are susceptible to tolerance induction. Deciphering such differences could inform on the generation of novel therapies to inhibit the innate immune response at the site of injury (i.e., within the allograft).
In Aim 1 of this proposal, we will employ pharmacological approaches to block HA activity in experimental models of acute transplant rejection and transplantation tolerance for which MyD88 signaling is critical for graft rejection.
In Aim 2, we will generate mice in which HA is inducibly deleted within skin allografts. This mouse model will be a useful resource for future experiments to determine if HA mediates MyD88 dependent rejection of skin allografts. We will complement this approach by generating mice in which HA is over-expressed within cardiac tissue. This will allow us to examine whether HA over-expression is sufficient to impair transplant tolerance of cardiac allografts. Hence, this proposal will generate novel reagents to examine the role of HA in acute graft rejection and transplant tolerance induction. Moreover, these resources would also impact other models of inflammation for which HA may play a major role.

Public Health Relevance

Both experimental and clinical studies have revealed that the innate immune system contributes to acute rejection of organ allografts and transplant tolerance resistance. However, we do not know the nature of the substances that activate the innate system after organ transplantation. This proposal will examine whether a putative innate ligand, hyaluronan, is critical for acute allograft rejection and transplant tolerance resistance through pharmacological approaches and through generation of novel mice with modulated hyaluronan expression.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-IMM-N (02))
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Kehn, Patricia J
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Yale University
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Schools of Medicine
New Haven
United States
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Shen, Hua; Heuzey, Elizabeth; Mori, Daniel N et al. (2015) Haptoglobin enhances cardiac transplant rejection. Circ Res 116:1670-9
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