This laboratory has used a composite tissue allograft model as a vehicle for studies on a new type of bone marrow transplant, the vascularized bone marrow transplant. The model consists of a rat hind limb transplant that incorporates integumentary musculoskeletal, and lymphopoietic tissues. These transplants, in comparison with conventional marrow transplants, have the advantage of providing a syngeneic microenvironment and immediate engraftment of both mature and progenitor hemopoietic cells at the time of transplantation. The characteristics of graft-versus-host disease were studied in this model. Lewis x Brown Norway F1 (LBN RT-1((1+n))) rats received hind limbs from Lewis (LEW RT-((1)) donors (n = 19). Animals were observed daily for signs of graft-versus-host disease. Necropsies were performed. A minority of animals developed lethal disease (7 of 19 recipients) and demonstrated cachexia with concomitant histopathologic changes of the disease. Acute and chronic groups emerged with distinct clinical courses, which are similar to other models of this disease. Recipients of vascularized bone marrow transplants (limb transplants) showed clinical and histopathologic changes of the disease. The transplants may be used as a model of graft-versus-host disease in humans. Most interestingly, the transplant has a lower incidence of disease compared with other methods of bone marrow transplantation and represents an alternative to conventional bone marrow transplantation, which deserves further exploration. It may be possible to develop a new technique for bone marrow transplantation based on this surgical approach. It is proposed that the transfer of vascularized blocks of bone/marrow into prospective recipients as opposed to cellular bone marrow transplants may be preferable.
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