Background: To induce accommodation in the hamster-to-rat cardiac transplantation model, in addition to cyclosporin A (CSA) to inhibit T-cell-mediated graft rejection, cobra venom factor (CVF) is often used to prevent complement-mediated graft rejection. Although it is generally assumed that CVF makes accommodation possible because it inactivates the complement membrane attack complex (MAC), it is not known which complement components must be inactivated and whether complement activation products generated by CVF are also involved in the induction of accommodation. Therefore, to investigate mechanisms by which CVF contributes to accommodation, we studied induction of accommodation of hamster hearts grafted into rats with complement deficiencies of C6; these rats cannot assemble the MAC but, in contrast to CVF, retain in their native state all complement proteins that precede the MAC. Methods: Golden Syrian hamster hearts were transplanted heterotopically into the abdomen of normocomplementemic and C6-deficient (C6D) PVG rats. Graft rejection was determined by cessation of palpable cardiac contractions. CSA, 10 mg/kg, was administered daily to all rats. Graft survival was compared in rats given CVF (60 U/kg 1-day pre-transplant and 20 U/kg/day for the next 9 days), C6D rats given no CVF, normocomplementemic rats given anti-C6 IgG or non-immune IgG but no CVF, and C6D rats reconstituted with normocomplementemic rat serum. Total complement and C6 serum levels were measured using hemolytic assays in rat peripheral blood. Results: We found that hamster hearts transplanted into C6D rats receiving CSA but no CVF survived long-term, with histology typical of an accommodated heart. The accommodated hamster heart did not reconstitute C6 levels of the C6D recipient rats. Moreover, in normocomplementemic rats given anti-C6 antibodies (abs) to induce partial C6 deficiency, accommodation also developed without administration of CVF. Accommodation of the hamster heart failed to develop in C6D rats whose complement was reconstituted by administration of normocomplementemic rat serum given before and following transplantation. Conclusions: These studies demonstrate that, in this model, inhibition of MAC-mediated graft rejection is sufficient to allow the development of accommodation. Inactivation of C3 or other complement proteins of the alternate pathway, or the presence of complement-derived biologically active fragments, is not needed for development of accommodation.
- Cobra venom factor
- Membrane attack complex