The terminal components of complement C5b-C9 can cause significant injury to cardiac allografts. Using C6-deficient rats, we have found that the rejection of major histocompatibility (MHC) class I-incompatible PVG. R8 (RT1.AaB(u)) cardiac allografts by PVG.1U (RT1.A(u)B(u)) recipients is particularly dependent on C6. This model was selected to determine whether tissue injury results from C6 produced by macrophages, which are a conspicuous component of infiltrates in rejecting transplants. We demonstrated that high levels of C6 mRNA are expressed in isolated populations of macrophages. The relevance of macrophage-produced C6 to cardiac allograft injury was investigated by transplanting hearts from PVG.R8 (C6-) donors to PVG.1U (C6-) rats which had been reconstituted with bone marrow from PVG.1U (C6+) rats as the sole source of C6. Hearts grafted to hosts after C6 reconstitution by bone marrow transplantation underwent rejection characterized by deposition of IgG and complement on the vascular endothelium together with extensive intravascular aggregates of P-selectin- positive platelets. At the time of acute rejection, the cardiac allografts contained extensive perivascular and interstitial macrophage infiltrates. RT- PCR and in situ hybridization demonstrated high levels of C6 mRNA in the macrophage-laden transplants. C6 protein levels were also increased in the circulation during rejection. To determine the relative contribution to cardiac allograft rejection of the low levels of circulating C6 produced systemically by macrophages, C6 containing serum was passively transferred to PVG.1U (C6-) recipients of PVG.R8 (C6-) hearts. This reconstituted the C6 levels to about 3 to 6% of normal values, but failed to induce allograft rejection. In control PVG.1U (C6-) recipients that were reconstituted with bone marrow from PVG.1U (C6-) donors, C6 levels remained undetectable and PVG.R8 cardiac allografts were not rejected. These results indicate that C6 produced by macrophages can cause significant tissue damage.
Qian, Z., Wasowska, B. A., Behrens, E., Cangello, D. L., Brody, J. R., Kadkol, S. H. S., … Baldwin, W. M. (1999). C6 produced by macrophages contributes to cardiac allograft rejection. American Journal of Pathology, 155(4), 1293–1302. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0002-9440(10)65231-5