Transplant rejection in terrestrial molluscs
Keywords:allogeneic rejection, molluscs, orthotopic transplantation, autophagic cell death, perforin
To know whether or not molluscs are capable of recognizing tissue allo-antigens, dorsal
skin-allografts were exchanged between adult terrestrial slug, Incilaria fruhstorferi. We succeeded for the first time in orthotopic transplantation of allografts and observed chronic rejection of allografts. Cellular changes in the rejection process continued over for 40 days. Two functional types of “effector” cells were recognized at the rejection site, but they were observed to be macrophages possessing perforin granules and phagocytosing damaged cells of the allograft. Three days after transplantation, the perforin-positive cells were recognized only in the recipient tissue surrounding the allograft. Five days after transplantation, these cells started to appear in the graft, while they disappeared from the host tissue. However, TUNEL-positive cells (apoptotic cells) were not observed throughout the graft-rejection process. Electron microscopic examination of the graft tissue revealed autophagic degeneration of epithelial cells, mucous cells, pigment cells, fibroblasts, and muscle cells. These observations suggest that the slugs have the capability to recognize differences in cell-surface molecules between the allogeneic and recipient tissue, and that an allograft is chronically rejected due to a type of immunocyte (macrophage) that can induce perforin-dependent cell death.