Impact of Local Alloimmunity and Recipient Cells in Transplant Arteriosclerosis

Jingjing Cai, Jiacheng Deng, Wenduo Gu, Zhichao Ni, Yuanyuan Liu, Yogesh Kamra, Alka Saxena, Yanhua Hu, Hong Yuan, Qingzhong Xiao, Yao Lu, Qingbo Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


RATIONALE: Transplant arteriosclerosis is the major limitation to long-term survival of solid organ transplantation. Although both immune and nonimmune cells have been suggested to contribute to this process, the complex cellular heterogeneity within the grafts, and the underlying mechanisms regulating the disease progression remain largely uncharacterized. OBJECTIVE: We aimed to delineate the cellular heterogeneity within the allografts, and to explore possible mechanisms underlying this process. METHODS AND RESULTS: Here, we reported the transcriptional profiling of 11 868 cells in a mouse model of transplant arteriosclerosis by single-cell RNA sequencing. Unbiased clustering analyses identified 21 cell clusters at different stages of diseases, and focused analysis revealed several previously unknown subpopulations enriched in the allografts. Interestingly, we found evidence of the local formation of tertiary lymphoid tissues and suggested a possible local modulation of alloimmune responses within the grafts. Intercellular communication analyses uncovered a potential role of several ligands and receptors, including Ccl21a and Cxcr3, in regulating lymphatic endothelial cell-induced early chemotaxis and infiltration of immune cells. In vivo mouse experiments confirmed the therapeutic potential of CCL21 and CXCR3 neutralizing antibodies in transplant arteriosclerosis. Combinational use of genetic lineage tracing and single-cell techniques further indicate the infiltration of host-derived c-Kit+ stem cells as heterogeneous populations in the allografts. Finally, we compared the immune response between mouse allograft and atherosclerosis models in single-cell RNA-seq analysis. By analyzing susceptibility genes of disease traits, we also identified several cell clusters expressing genes associated with disease risk. CONCLUSIONS: Our study provides a transcriptional and cellular landscape of transplant arteriosclerosis, which could be fundamental to understanding the initiation and progression of this disease. CCL21/CXCR3 was also identified as important regulators of immune response and may serve as potential therapeutic targets in disease treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)974-993
Number of pages20
JournalCirculation Research
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sept 2020


  • arteriosclerosis
  • cluster analysis
  • endothelial cell
  • ligands
  • mice


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