The transplanted limb contains bone marrow tissue. The hematopoietic cells contained in the bone of the graft normally differentiate after transplantation and can be released to the recipient. The cells migrate to the recipient bone marrow cavities and lymphoid organs. This causes the immune reaction between the donor and the recipient, which develops not only in the graft itself but also in the recipient immune organs where donor bone marrow cells home. The purpose of this study was to investigate the process of migration of the hematopoietic cells from the donor limb to the recipient bone marrow cavities and lymphoid tissues. The questions the authors asked were: what is the rate of release of bone marrow cells from the transplanted bone, where do the released bone marrow cells home in the recipient, how fast are donor bone marrow cells rejected by the recipient, and can some bone marrow cells homing in the recipient tissues survive and create a state of microchimerism. Experiments were performed on Brown Norway and Lewis inbred rat strains (n = 30). Limb donors received intravenous chromium-51-labeled bone marrow cells. Twenty-four hours later, the limb with homing labeled bone marrow cells was transplanted to an allogeneic or syngeneic recipient. The rate of radioactivity of bone marrow cells released from the graft and homing in recipient tissues was measured after another 24 hours. To eliminate factors adversely affecting homing such as the “crowding effect” and allogeneic elimination of bone marrow cells by natural killer cells, total body irradiation and antiasialo-GM1 antiserum were applied to recipients before limb transplantation. In rats surviving with the limb grafts for 7 and 30 days, homing of donor bone marrow cells was studied by specific labeling of donor cells and flow cytometry as well as by detecting donor male Y chromosome. The authors found that transplantation of the limb with bone marrow in its natural spatial relationship with stromal cells and blood perfusion brings about immediate but low-rate release of bone marrow cells and their migration to recipient bone marrow and lymphoid tissues. Large portions of allogeneic bone marrow cells are rapidly destroyed in the mechanism of allogeneic elimination by radioresistant but antiasialo-GM1-sensitive natural killer cells. Some transplanted bone marrow cells remain in the recipient’s tissues and create a state of cellular and DNA microchimerism. A low number of physiologically released donor bone marrow cells do not seem to adversely affect the clinical outcome of limb grafting. Quite the opposite, a slight prolongation of the graft survival time was observed.
From the Department of Surgical Research and Transplantology, Medical Research Center, Polish Academy of Sciences.
Received for publication April 10, 2002;
revised December 30, 2002.
Waldemar Lech Olszewski, M.D.
Department of Surgical Research and Transplantology
Medical Research Center
Polish Academy of Sciences
5 Pawinskiego Street
02-106 Warsaw, Poland