Modern pathology : an official journal of the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology, Inc

Biomarker evaluation of face transplant rejection: association of donor T cells with target cell injury.

PMID 24434898


This series of 113 sequential biopsies of full facial transplants provides findings of potential translational significance as well as biological insights that could prompt reexamination of conventional paradigms of effector pathways in skin allograft rejection. Serial biopsies before, during, and after rejection episodes were evaluated for clinicopathological assessment that in selected cases included specific biomarkers for donor-versus-recipient T cells. Histologic evidence of rejection included lymphocyte-associated injury to epidermal rete ridges, follicular infundibula, and dermal microvessels. Surprisingly, during active rejection, immune cells spatially associated with target cell injury consisted abundantly or predominantly of lymphocytes of donor origin with an immunophenotype typical of the resident memory T-cell subset. Current dogma assumes that skin allograft rejection is mediated by recipient T cells that attack epidermal targets, and the association of donor T cells with sites of target cell injury raises questions regarding the potential complexity of immune cell interactions in the rejection process. A more histopathologically refined and immune-based biomarker approach to assessment of rejection of facial transplants is now indicated.