Immunohistochemical study of HLA-G expression in lung transplant recipients.Am J Transplant. 2009 Jun; 9(6):1427-38.AJ
Human leukocyte antigen-G (HLA-G), a nonclassical HLA class I protein, promotes immune tolerance of solid-organ allografts, yet its role in lung transplantation (LTx) is unknown. We examined the expression of HLA-G in lung allografts through immunohistochemistry by a cross-sectional study of 64 LTx recipients, classified into four groups (stable patients, acute rejection [AR], bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome [BOS] and symptomatic viral shedders). A marked expression of HLA-G in bronchial epithelial cells (BEC) was frequently observed in stable recipients (n = 18/35 [51%]), but not in patients with AR (n = 14) or with BOS (n = 8). HLA-G was also expressed by 4 of 7 symptomatic viral shedders. In addition, HLA-G-positive patients from the stable group (n = 35) experienced lower incidence of resistant AR and/or BOS during long-term follow-up, as compared with their HLA-G-negative counterparts. Finally, in vitro data showed that interferon-gamma, a cytokine present in lung allograft microenvironment, upregulated HLA-G mRNA and protein expression in primary cultured human BEC. We conclude that HLA-G expression in the bronchial epithelium of lung allograft is elevated in some LTx recipients in association with their functional stability, suggesting a potential role of HLA-G as a tolerance marker.