Although organ transplantation has added millions of life-years to recipients and advanced considerably since the 1980s, one-year survival rates for solid-organ transplants have plateaued in recent years, and long-term survival rates have not changed much since the ‘80s.1

Research into the immune system’s role in organ transplantation success is critical to improving these rates, particularly how we can better understand immunity and manipulate it.

Characterized immune cells are a great starting point for transplantation research and offer a window into the innate and adaptive immune system’s ability to accept or reject a transplant. Cells in the innate immune system — including monocytes, macrophages, neutrophils, natural killer cells, and platelets — can promote acceptance of transplanted tissue or facilitate rejection.


 Mechanisms for Promoting ToleranceMechanisms Facilitating Rejection
Monocytes / MacrophagesKill allogeneic T cells by phagocytosis
Regulate allogeneic T cells through IDO
Promote wound healing after transplant
Kill transplanted cells by phagocytosis
Enhance adaptive immunity
MHC receptor mediated rejection
Enhance fibrosis
NeutrophilsCXCR4hi subset necessary for revascularizationEnhance adaptive immunity
Decrease recovery of smooth muscle cells
Presence associated with donor-specific antibodies
NK CellsKill DCs to prevent downstream activation of allogeneic T cellsKill transplanted cells with perforin due to missing self
PlateletsEnhance adaptive immunity through recruitment and priming of T cells

Table from “Innate immune cells in transplantation.” Current Opinion in Organ Transplantation. 2015.2


We’ve Got a Tool for That

Learn more about some of our immune cell products that can aid in transplantation research.



Using HLA-typed peripheral blood mononuclear cells as a starting material to understand the immune system’s role in accepting or rejecting transplanted tissue is critical to account for differences based on specific alleles.

Purified T cells, CD4+ T cells, and CD8+ T cells can also be used as starting materials, but PBMC are best. CD4+ T cells are assumed to account for most of the immune response to transplanted tissue, but CD8+ T cells also react to HLA alleles.


B-Lymphoblastoid Cell Lines

B-LCL are very useful in transplantation research because you can keep them growing for constant availability. Using one B-LCL sample allows for the same stimulus/HLA mismatch across experiments.

The graph below demonstrates a mixed lymphocyte reaction using B-LCL as the stimulus and CD3+ T cells as responders at 10,000 cells per well.

mixed lymphocyte reaction using B-LCL as the stimulus and CD3+ T cells as responders at 10,000 cells per well


Dendritic Cells

Dendritic cells offer a more potent stimulus that may elicit a different cytokine profile than PBMC, T cells, or B-LCL. You must use activated/matured dendritic cells to achieve full potency.

RELATED: Human Dendritic Cell Culture and Activation Tips


With dendritic cells, you will likely see more variation between batches. However, it is possible to run multiple experiments with a single lot of dendritic cells to control for such variation.


Your Lab or Ours

Use our immune cell products to run transplantation experiments in your lab, or leverage our immunology lab expertise and resources to expedite your research milestones.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.