Despite the accepted notion that granulocytes play a universally destructive role in organ and tissue grafts, it has been recently described that eosinophils can facilitate immunosuppression-mediated acceptance of murine lung allografts. The mechanism of eosinophil-mediated tolerance, or their role in regulating alloimmune responses in the absence of immunosuppression, remains unknown. Using lung transplants in a fully MHC-mismatched BALB/c (H2d) to C57BL/6 (H2b) strain combination, we demonstrate that eosinophils downregulate T cell–mediated immune responses and play a tolerogenic role even in the absence of immunosuppression. We further show that such downregulation depends on PD-L1/PD-1–mediated synapse formation between eosinophils and T cells. We also demonstrate that eosinophils suppress T lymphocyte responses through the inhibition of T cell receptor/CD3 (TCR/CD3) subunit association and signal transduction in an inducible NOS–dependent manner. Increasing local eosinophil concentration, through administration of intratracheal eotaxin and IL-5, can ameliorate alloimmune responses in the lung allograft. Thus, our data indicate that eosinophil mobilization may be utilized as a novel means of lung allograft–specific immunosuppression.
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