Past Funded Research Project – Transplant Immunology 

Contribution of Innate-Like B Cells to Human Cardiac Allograft Vasculopathy (CAV)

Primary Investigators: Debanjana Chatterjee 

Institution: Columbia University

Funding began in 2016.

This study was funded in 2016, with a focus on researching into one of the major factors limiting long-term survival after a heart transplant.


Please read below to learn more about this research project or click here to view the published report.

Cardiac allograft vasculopathy (CAV) has been associated with graft-infiltrating B cells, although their characteristics are still unclear. In this study, we examined the frequency, localization, and reactivity profile of graft-infiltrating B cells to determine their contribution to the pathophysiology of CAV.

B cells, plasma cells, and macrophages were examined by immunohistochemistry in 56 allografts with CAV, 49 native failed hearts, and 25 autopsy specimens. A total of 102 B-cell clones were immortalized directly from the infiltrates of 3 fresh cardiac samples with CAV. Their secreted antibodies were assessed using enzyme-linked immunoassay and flow cytometry.

B-cell infiltration was observed around coronary arteries in 93% of allograft explants with CAV. Comparatively, intragraft B cells were less frequent and less dense in the intraventricular myocardium from where routine biopsies are obtained. Plasma cells and macrophages were also detected in 85% and 95% of explants, respectively. Remarkably, B-cell infiltrates were not associated with circulating donor-specific antibodies (DSA) or prior episodes of antibody-mediated rejection (AMR). Among all B-cell clones generated from 3 explants with CAV, a majority secreted natural antibodies reactive to multiple autoantigens and apoptotic cells, a characteristic of innate B cells.


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