After a patient’s surgery, there is a possibility that the body may reject its new transplanted organ which causes a lot of problems for recipients of a transplant. There are 3 types of rejection, that range from fatal to mild.

Hyperacute is a rejection that puts the recipient’s life in danger and it happens if an organ with a different blood type has been used, on these instances symptoms appear in minutes and the organ must be removed immediately.

Acute rejection all recipients will have and symptoms appear in 1 week to 3 months.

Lastly, chronic rejection which takes place over many years. The body’s constant immune response against the new organ slowly damages the transplanted tissues or organ.

It has been known that the body rejects the organ due to the T-cells registering the new organ as foreign, much like with viruses and it begins to attack, but the full understanding of how this process works is yet to be fully explained. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh have identified a previously hidden link between our immune system and the activation of cells that lead to organ rejection.

The culprit for these problems is a receptor on the surface of the organ, signal regulatory protein alpha (SIRPα) and a receptor on the body’s monocyte cell, CD47. When these receptors interact the monocyte recognises it is not from the body, and in turn, alerts the dendric cells that command T-cells.

“Once these cells are activated, then they turn around and activate the rest of the immune system, and that leads to the full-blown rejection of the organ,” lead researcher Fadi Lakkis from the University of Pittsburgh told Liz Reid at 90.5 WESA.

“What we would like to do is sequence the SIRP-alpha gene in many humans who are donors and recipients of organ or bone marrow, and then ask whether a mismatch affects the outcome after transplantation.”

Currently, a lot is already done to prevent organ rejection, such as closely matching MHC proteins, but this can still lead to rejection a year down the line. There is medicine to combat this, but it suppresses the immune system, making them prone to infection and cancer.

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