The specificity of rejection of isolated pancreatic islets was examined in the rat using a quantitative model in which syngeneic (DA) or a mixture of syngeneic and allogeneic (DA and LEW or PVG) islets were implanted beneath the capsule of the kidney of nondiabetic normal rats (DA). 3 wk after transplantation total insulin extraction assays of the kidney with its islet implant together with immunohistological examination of the site of transplantation for evidence of syngeneic or allogeneic tissue demonstrated the total destruction of allogeneic islets without any evidence of damage to syngeneic islets either distant or in immediate proximity to allogeneic islets. Pancreatic islets, and especially beta cells, appear to be particularly vulnerable to the effector arm of both autoimmune and alloimmune responses, a vulnerability that has been attributed to the cytotoxic effects of lymphokines, notably IL-1, released in both autoimmune and alloimmune responses. The experiments reported here demonstrate not only the exquisite specificity of the allograft reaction but are not compatible with a hypothesis that B cells within an intact islet are nonspecifically susceptible to destruction by lymphokines.

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