Researchers Explore Immune Environment To Prevent Pediatric Liver Transplant Rejection.

Researchers at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) are making strides in developing personalized immunosuppression therapies for pediatric liver transplant patients. Currently, children who undergo liver transplant surgery must take lifelong immunosuppressant medications to prevent rejection of the transplanted liver. These medications are not optimal as they do not specifically target the immune cell subpopulations associated with rejection, resulting in side effects and drug resistance for some patients.

To address this issue, the CHLA researchers have developed an imaging panel that can identify the cell types involved in transplant rejection. By analyzing tissue biopsies from adult liver transplant patients, including those who had received transplants at CHLA as children, the researchers generated an atlas of over 400,000 cells and identified unique cell signatures associated with active T-cell-mediated rejection. These signatures included regulatory T cells, PD1-expressing T cells, and variations in M2 macrophage polarization.

The findings of this study, published in Science Advances, provide valuable insights into the complex immune response during liver transplant rejection. With a better understanding of the specific cell populations involved in rejection, the researchers hope to develop targeted therapies that minimize side effects and improve outcomes for pediatric patients. Additionally, they aim to identify biomarkers that can be detected through blood tests, reducing the need for invasive tissue biopsies.

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