In this report we investigated local regulatory mechanisms in graft rejection and their response to local immunosuppressive therapy. For this purpose local immunosuppression was induced in rat kidney allografts by intrarenal infusion of prednisolone. Intrarenal drug delivery resulted in high drug levels within the graft and low systemic drug levels. Systemic drug levels were by themselves not sufficiently immunosuppressive to induce graft survival, and local prednisolone levels within the graft proved to be responsible for prolongation of graft survival. During intrarenal drug delivery, systemic responsiveness to the renal allograft proved normal, since intrarenally treated grafts were infiltrated by MHC class II-positive host cells and, except for a somewhat lower percentage of macrophages, cellular infiltration in intrarenal treated grafts was comparable to untreated grafts. However, T cells and macrophages present in intrarenally treated grafts were not able to destroy the grafted tissue. Local immunosuppressive therapy resulted in inhibition of IL-2-R expression, absence of IFN-gamma, and prevention of MHC class II induction on grafted tissue. These observations strongly indicate the presence of local regulatory mechanisms in graft rejection. The experimental model described can be used for further analysis of these intragraft events. Moreover, the results demonstrate that local immunosuppressive therapy can contribute to effective inhibition of cellular immune response in graft rejection.

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