A new bicornuate model of rat uterus transplantation
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Our work on a “A new bicornuate model of rat uterus transplantation” has been accepted for publication in Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica.

Uterus transplantation has revolutionized reproductive medicine for women with absolute uterine factor infertility, resulting in more than 40 reported successful live births worldwide to date. Small animal models are pivotal to refine this surgical and immunological challenging procedure aiming to enhance safety for both the mother and the child.
We established a syngeneic bicornuate uterus transplantation model in young female Lewis rats. All surgical procedures were conducted by an experienced and skilled microsurgeon who organized the learning process into multiple structured steps. Animals underwent meticulous preoperative preparation and postoperative care. Transplant success was monitored by sequential biopsies, monitoring graft viability and documenting histological changes long-term. Bicornuate uterus transplantation were successfully established achieving an over 70% graft survival rate with the passage of time. The bicornuate model demonstrated safety and feasibility, yielding outcomes comparable to the unicornuate model in terms of ischemia times and complications. Longitudinal biopsies were well-tolerated, enabling comprehensive monitoring throughout the study. Our novel bicornuate rat uterus transplantation model provides a distinctive opportunity for sequential biopsies at various intervals after transplantation and therefore comprehensive monitoring of graft health, viability, and identification of potential signs of rejection. Furthermore, this model allows for different interventions in each horn for comparative studies without interobserver differences contrary to the established unicornuate model. By closely replicating the clinical setting, this model stands as a valuable tool for ongoing research in the field of uterus transplantation, promoting further innovation and deeper insights into the intricacies of the uterus transplant procedure.

Authors are Dietrich Polenz, Igor Maximilian Sauer, Friederike Martin, Anja Reutzel-Selke, Muhammad Imtiaz Ashraf , Anja Schirmeier , Steffen Lippert, Kirsten Führer, Johann Pratschke, Stefan Günther Tullius, and Simon Moosburner.
Depletion of donor dendritic cells ameliorates immunogenicity of both skin and hind limb transplants
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Our manuscript "Depletion of donor dendritic cells ameliorates immunogenicity of both skin and hind limb transplants" has been accepted for publication in Frontiers in Immunology, section Alloimmunity and Transplantation. Authors are Muhammad Imtiaz Ashraf, Joerg Mengwasser, Anja Reutzel-Selke, Dietrich Polenz, Kirsten Führer, Steffen Lippert, Peter Tang, Edward Michaelis, Rusan Catar, Johann Pratschke, Christian Witzel, Igor M. Sauer, Stefan G. Tullius, and Barbara Kern.

Acute cellular rejection remains a significant obstacle affecting successful outcomes of organ transplantation including vascularized composite tissue allografts (VCA). Donor antigen presenting cells (APC), particularly dendritic cells (DC), orchestrate early alloimmune responses by activating recipient effector T cells. Employing a targeted approach, we investigated the impact of donor-derived conventional DC (cDC) and APC on the immunogenicity of skin and skin-containing VCA grafts, using mouse models of skin and hind limb transplantation.
By post-transplantation day 6, skin grafts demonstrated severe rejections, characterized by predominance of recipient CD4 T cells. In contrast, hind limb grafts showed moderate rejection, primarily infiltrated by CD8 T cells. While donor depletion of cDC and APC reduced frequencies, maturation, and activation of DC in all analysed tissues of skin transplant recipients, reduction in DC activities was only observed in the spleen of hind limb recipients. Donor cDC and APC depletion did not impact all lymphocyte compartments but significantly affected CD8 T cells and activated CD4 T in lymph nodes of skin recipients. Moreover, both donor APC and cDC depletion attenuated the Th17 immune response, evident by significantly reduced Th17 (CD4+IL-17+) cells in the spleen of skin recipients and reduced levels of IL-17E and lymphotoxin-α in the serum samples of both skin and hind limb recipients. In conclusion, our findings underscore the highly immunogenic nature of skin component in VCA. The depletion of donor APC and cDC mitigates the immunogenicity of skin grafts while exerting minimal impact on VCA.
Moderate LMWH anticoagulation improves success rate of hind limb allotransplantation in mice
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The publication "Moderate LMWH Anticoagulation Improves Success Rate of Hind Limb Allotransplantation in Mice" is now available online in Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery-Global Open. Authors are B. Kern, M.-I. Ashraf, A. Reutzel-Selke, J. Mengwasser, D. Polenz, E. Michaels, J. Pratschke, S.G. Tullius, Ch. Witzel, and I.M. Sauer.

The mouse hind limb model represents a powerful research tool in vascularized composite tissue allotransplantation, but its applicability is limited due to poor graft survival (62%–83%). Vascular thrombosis and massive hemorrhage are the major causes for these drop-outs. We hypothesize that because of better anticoagulation effect and lower risk of thrombocytopenia, application of low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) will minimize vascular complications and enhance graft and animal survival.

Fifty allogeneic hind limb transplantations were performed (C57BL/6 to DBA/2 mice) using five different anticoagulation protocols. Bleeding and thromboembolic events were recorded macroscopically by postoperative hemorrhage and livid discoloration of the graft, respectively. Graft perfusion and survival were monitored daily by capillary-refill-time of graft toes within 2–3 seconds. Vascular congestion and tissue necrosis were examined by histological evaluation of hematoxylin-eosin-stained tissue sections.

All transplantations were technically successful. Increase in thromboembolic events and a concomitant decrease in bleeding events were observed with the decreasing concentration of heparin in the perfusion solution. Although treatment of donor and recipient with low dose of LMWH could not reduce thromboembolic events, moderate dose effectively reduced these events. Compared with the poor outcome of graft perfusion with heparin alone, additional treatment of donor and recipient with low dose of LMWH improved graft and animal survival by 18%. Interestingly, animals treated with moderate dose of LMWH demonstrated 100% graft and animal survival.
Treatment of donor and recipient mice with a moderate dose of LMWH prevents vascular complications and improves the outcome of murine hind limb transplants.
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