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Early Immunomodulatory Program Triggered by Protolerogenic Bifidobacterium pseudolongum Drives Cardiac Transplant Outcomes.

Transplantation 2024 April 9
BACKGROUND: Despite ongoing improvements to regimens preventing allograft rejection, most cardiac and other organ grafts eventually succumb to chronic vasculopathy, interstitial fibrosis, or endothelial changes, and eventually graft failure. The events leading to chronic rejection are still poorly understood and the gut microbiota is a known driving force in immune dysfunction. We previously showed that gut microbiota dysbiosis profoundly influences the outcome of vascularized cardiac allografts and subsequently identified biomarker species associated with these differential graft outcomes.

METHODS: In this study, we further detailed the multifaceted immunomodulatory properties of protolerogenic and proinflammatory bacterial species over time, using our clinically relevant model of allogenic heart transplantation.

RESULTS: In addition to tracing longitudinal changes in the recipient gut microbiome over time, we observed that Bifidobacterium pseudolongum induced an early anti-inflammatory phenotype within 7 d, whereas Desulfovibrio desulfuricans resulted in a proinflammatory phenotype, defined by alterations in leukocyte distribution and lymph node (LN) structure. Indeed, in vitro results showed that B pseudolongum and D desulfuricans acted directly on primary innate immune cells. However, by 40 d after treatment, these 2 bacterial strains were associated with mixed effects in their impact on LN architecture and immune cell composition and loss of colonization within gut microbiota, despite protection of allografts from inflammation with B pseudolongum treatment.

CONCLUSIONS: These dynamic effects suggest a critical role for early microbiota-triggered immunologic events such as innate immune cell engagement, T-cell differentiation, and LN architectural changes in the subsequent modulation of protolerant versus proinflammatory immune responses in organ transplant recipients.

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