This study has examined the cellular and humoral responses underlying the rejection of rat renal allografts bearing an isolated RT1Aa class I MHC disparity. RT1Aa disparate kidneys were rejected promptly by high responder RT1u but not by low responder RT1c recipients (median survival time 10 d and greater than 100 d, respectively). The magnitude and phenotype of the cellular infiltrate were similar in rejecting and nonrejecting RT1Aa disparate kidneys. Paradoxically, graft infiltrating cells and spleen cells from RT1u recipients showed minimal ability to lyse donor strain lymphoblasts in vitro, whereas effector cells from RT1c recipients showed modest levels of cytotoxicity. Injection of RT1u rats with MRC OX8 mAb was highly effective at selectively depleting CD8+ cells from graft recipients but had no effect in prolonging the survival of RT1Aa disparate grafts despite the complete absence of CD8+ cells from the graft infiltrate, which included numerous CD4+ T cells and macrophages. RT1u, but not RT1c, recipients mounted a strong alloantibody response against RT1Aa disparate kidneys. Immune serum obtained from RT1u recipients that had rejected a RT1Aa disparate graft was able, when injected into cyclosporin-treated RT1u recipients, to restore their ability to reject a RT1Aa, but not a third-party RT1c, kidney. These results suggest that CD8+ cells in general and CD8+ cytotoxic effector cells in particular are unnecessary for the rapid rejection of RT1Aa class I disparate kidney grafts by high responder RT1u recipients. By implication, CD4+ T cells alone are sufficient to cause prompt rejection of such grafts and they may do so by providing T cell help for the generation of alloantibody.

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