The Human Immune Response to Cadaveric and Living Donor Liver Allografts

Angus Hann, Daniel-Clement Osei-Bordom, Desley A H Neil, Vincenzo Ronca, Suz Warner, M Thamara P R Perera

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The liver is an important contributor to the human immune system and it plays a pivotal role in the creation of both immunoreactive and tolerogenic conditions. Liver transplantation provides the best chance of survival for both children and adults with liver failure or cancer. With current demand exceeding the number of transplantable livers from donors following brain death, improved knowledge, technical advances and the desire to prevent avoidable deaths has led to the transplantation of organs from living, ABO incompatible (ABOi), cardiac death donors and machine based organ preservation with acceptable results. The liver graft is the most well-tolerated, from an immunological perspective, of all solid organ transplants. Evidence suggests successful cessation of immunosuppression is possible in ~20-40% of liver transplant recipients without immune mediated graft injury, a state known as "operational tolerance." An immunosuppression free future following liver transplantation is an ambitious but perhaps not unachievable goal. The initial immune response following transplantation is a sterile inflammatory process mediated by the innate system and the mechanisms relate to the preservation-reperfusion process. The severity of this injury is influenced by graft factors and can have significant consequences. There are minimal experimental studies that delineate the differences in the adaptive immune response to the various forms of liver allograft. Apart from ABOi transplants, antibody mediated hyperacute rejection is rare following liver transplant. T-cell mediated rejection is common following liver transplantation and its incidence does not differ between living or deceased donor grafts. Transplantation in the first year of life results in a higher rate of operational tolerance, possibly due to a bias toward Th2 cytokines (IL4, IL10) during this period. This review further describes the current understanding of the immunological response toward liver allografts and highlight the areas of this topic yet to be fully understood.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1227
JournalFrontiers in immunology
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2020 Hann, Osei-Bordom, Neil, Ronca, Warner and Perera.


  • cadaveric
  • immunity
  • liver
  • living donor
  • rejection
  • tolerance
  • transplant


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