Peptides from donor major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules were examined for their activation of allogeneically primed T cells. After immunization with either allogeneic spleen cells or a skin allograft, primed T cells proliferate in response to peptides derived from polymorphic regions of alpha and beta chains of class II allo-MHC molecules. The results demonstrate that presentation of donor-MHC peptides by host-derived antigen-presenting cells is a common event in vivo. Thus, self-restricted T cell recognition of processed alloantigens may play a critical role in transplantation. An in-depth understanding of this response may result in the development of additional molecular therapies to combat allograft rejection.

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