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Title: Modelling and characterisation of in vivo human skin graft rejection for the investigation of regulatory T cell therapy in vascularised composite allotransplantation
Author: Issa, Fadi G.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2724 1613
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2011
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Vascularised composite allograft (VCA) transplantation is revolutionising the field of plastic surgery. It reconstructs the most complex tissue defects effectively, achieving a new functional and cosmetic gold standard. However, VCA transplantation is currently limited by high rates of acute rejection and the need for patients without life-threatening conditions to be maintained on immunosuppression for life. Skin is the most problematic component of VCA transplants. It stimulates a vigorous immune response and is highly susceptible to rejection, even in the presence of potent immunosuppression. In order to expand the field of VCA transplantation and improve outcomes, the morbidity and mortality associated with immunosuppression need to be minimised or eliminated. This would require manipulation of the immune response to allow long-term survival in the absence of immunosuppression, in other words tolerance. A particular focus on the immune response directed against skin is required. Tolerance to skin allografts may be achievable with the use of regulatory T cells (Treg). Due to relatively few clinical cases, human skin transplantation is a poorly investigated area. The studies in this thesis were therefore designed to elucidate the characteristics of human skin rejection using a novel humanised mouse model, testing the hypothesis that human Treg could prevent human skin rejection in vivo. In Chapters 3 and 4 we develop a system whereby human skin rejection may be modelled effectively in vivo. Subsequently we investigate the unique characteristics of human skin rejection using this model. In Chapter 5 we demonstrate the capacity for Treg to prevent human skin rejection and investigate the systemic and local cellular changes resulting from Treg therapy. These changes include a reduction in the number of circulating proliferating T cells, a preservation of skin microvasculature, and a reduction in skin-infiltrating CD8+ leukocytes. Treg migrate to the allograft-draining lymph node and into the skin allograft to regulate immune responses. We demonstrate the importance of expansion or activation of Treg for their suppressive activity and the requirement for these cells to be derived from the allograft recipient for efficient regulation to be achieved. Treg cellular therapy has already been trialed clinically for the prevention of graft- versus-host disease after haematopoietic stem cell transplantation. The use of Treg in transplantation is therefore on the horizon. The unique translational data from this study bridge a critical gap between laboratory observations and the clinic. These data therefore form the basis upon which future clinical trials of Treg in skin or VCA transplantation may be performed.
Supervisor: Wood, Kathryn Sponsor: Wellcome Trust ; Dunhill Medical Trust ; Royal College of Surgeons of England ; Oxfordshire Health Services Research Committee
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Plastic and reconstructive surgery ; Transplantation ; Immunology