In a model of congenic and intra-MHC recombinant rat strains, the differential role of various histocompatibility antigens in renal subcapsular transplantation of purified islets of Langerhans isevaluated. Class I MHC antigens of the RT1.A region, expressed on the endocrine cells of the islets themselves, do not induce graft rejection on their own. MHC class I antigens as encoded by the RT1.C region do not induce rejection either. MHC class II antigens as encoded by the RT1.B/D region are not expressed on the endocrine pancreas, not even during rejection. Although interstitial dendritic cells situated within the islets expess these antigens, an isolated RT1. B/D incompatibility of islets is associated with prolonged survival in contrast to rapid rejection of fully MHC-mismatched grafts. Unlike other organs, islets matched for all MHC antigens, but incompatible at minor histocompatibility antigens, undergo rejection early after transplantation.

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