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Front. Immunol. | doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.02200

The role of the immunological synapse in differential effects of APC subsets in RBC alloimmunization

Amanda L. Richards1, Kathryn Sheldon1, Xiaoping Wu1, David R. Gruber1 and  Krystalyn E. Hudson1, 2*
  • 1Bloodworks Northwest Research Institute, United States
  • 2Department of Laboratory Medicine, University of Washington, United States

Each year, over 5 million red blood cell (RBC) transfusions are administered to patients in the USA. Despite the therapeutic benefits of RBC transfusions, there are associated risks. RBC-specific alloantibodies may form in response to antigenic differences between RBC donors and recipients; these alloantibodies can be a problem as they may mediate hemolysis or pose barriers to future transfusion support. While there is currently no reliable way to predict which RBC recipients will make an alloantibody response, risk factors such as inflammation have been shown to correlate with increased rates of RBC alloimmunization. The underlying mechanisms behind how inflammation mediates alloantibody production are incompletely defined. Herein, we utilized a murine model of RBC transfusion to evaluate which antigen presenting cells (APCs) participate in erythrophagocytosis and promote allogeneic T cell activation. We demonstrate that upon transfusion of fresh allogeneic RBCs, multiple APCs consumed transfused RBCs. However, only CD8a+ and CD11b+ dendritic cells formed productive immunological synapses with allogeneic T cells and stimulated proliferation. Importantly, allogeneic T cell activation and RBC alloantibody production occurred in response to RBC transfusion alone, and transfusion in the context of inflammation enhanced RBC consumption, the number of immune synapses, allogeneic T cell proliferation, and the rate and magnitude of alloantibody production. Thus, these data demonstrate that regardless of the ability to participate in RBC consumption, only a subset of APCs are capable of forming an immune synapse with T cells thereby initiating an alloantibody response. Additionally, these data provide mechanistic insight into RBC alloantibody generation.

Keywords: Red blood cells (RBC), transfusion, alloimmunisation, Inflammation, Alloantibodies

Received: 18 Jun 2018; Accepted: 05 Sep 2018.

Edited by:

Aurore Saudemont, GlaxoSmithKline (United Kingdom), United Kingdom

Reviewed by:

Elham Hossny, Ain Shams University, Egypt
Philippe Saas, INSERM U1098 Interactions Hôte-Greffon-Tumeur & Ingénierie Cellulaire et Génique, France  

Copyright: © 2018 Richards, Sheldon, Wu, Gruber and Hudson. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: PhD. Krystalyn E. Hudson, Bloodworks Northwest Research Institute, Seattle, United States,