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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Coronary sinus sampling of cytokines after heart transplantation: evidence for macrophage activation and interleukin-4 production within the graft.

OBJECTIVES. This study was undertaken to evaluate the organ-specific release of cytokines after heart transplantation and to assess any correlation with transplant rejection. This cytokine profile should document the relative activation of mononuclear cell subsets within the graft. BACKGROUND. Up to 60% of mononuclear cells infiltrating the cardiac allograft during rejection are macrophages, but their role is undetermined. The T lymphocytes are activated, but the activity of specific T cell subsets is not known. We sought to assess for the first time in humans the in vivo activation of mononuclear cell subsets by measuring coronary sinus cytokine levels after heart transplantation. METHODS. Paired superior vena cava and coronary sinus serum samples were assayed for interleukin (IL)-2, IL-4 and IL-6, soluble IL-2 receptors, tumor necrosis factor-alpha and neopterin in 10 patients at the time of 40 routine endomyocardial biopsy procedures. All cytokine measurements were made by using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay; neopterin was measured by using radioimmunoassay. RESULTS. Interleukin-2 levels were not detectable (< 0.8 U/ml) in either the superior vena cava or the coronary sinus in the presence or absence of rejection. Interleukin-2 receptor levels were uniformly elevated to 1,283 U/ml in the superior vena cava and to 1,232 U/ml in the coronary sinus, with no correlation with rejection severity. Interleukin-4 levels were consistently higher in coronary sinus serum than in peripheral blood (229 vs. 61 pg/ml, p < 0.0005), but there was no relation with rejection. Interleukin-6 levels were higher in the coronary sinus than in the superior vena cava (200 vs. 120 pg/ml, p < 0.05). Tumor necrosis factor-alpha showed consistently elevated levels in coronary sinus serum (68 vs. 17 pg/ml, p < 0.0005), with no relation with rejection. Neopterin, which is produced only by activated macrophages, was also consistently elevated in the coronary sinus (2.5 vs. 2.2 nmol, p = 0.08). CONCLUSIONS. The cardiac allograft is a major source of cytokines after heart transplantation. The cytokine profile allows the activity of subsets of the mononuclear cell infiltrate to be investigated. Elevated coronary sinus activity of the macrophage-specific metabolite neopterin suggests macrophage activation within the allograft. This possibility is supported by elevated coronary sinus levels of tumor necrosis factor-alpha and IL-6. The T lymphocytes are activated, as evidenced by high soluble IL-2 receptor levels, but IL-2 production was suppressed by conventional immunosuppressive therapy. Coronary sinus IL-4 levels represent T helper-2 cell activation within the graft despite immunosuppression. We could find no temporal relation between the coronary sinus or superior vena cava cytokine concentration or profile and severity of rejection on concurrent biopsy studies.[1]


  1. Coronary sinus sampling of cytokines after heart transplantation: evidence for macrophage activation and interleukin-4 production within the graft. Fyfe, A., Daly, P., Galligan, L., Pirc, L., Feindel, C., Cardella, C. J. Am. Coll. Cardiol. (1993) [Pubmed]
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