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Chemokines are cytokines with chemoattractant properties for leukocytes. They may play a critical role in directing leukocytes to graft sites and in amplifying intragraft inflammation during rejection. Previous studies have tested the intragraft expression of chemokine genes during the rejection of allogeneic skin grafts in mice. In the current study, we used a heterotopic heart transplant model in mice to test the intragraft expression of these genes in nonrejecting cardiac isografts, rejecting cardiac allografts, and cardiac allografts that were accepted due to immunosuppression with gallium nitrate. With the exception of low levels of interleukin-1[beta] and JE, intragraft expression of the the proinflammatory cytokine genes was not observed in either isografts or native heart. Two distinct patterns of chemokine mRNA were observed in the rejecting cardiac allografts. Intra-allograft expression of interleukin-1[beta], interferon-[gamma]-inducible protein, JE, and KC was prominent by day 3 after transplantation. The expression of macrophage inflammatory protein (MIP)-1[alpha], MIP-1[beta], and regulated upon activation, normal T cell expressed and secreted (RANTES) was at low or undetectable levels at day 3 after transplantation but at high levels by day 8 after transplantation. Sixty days after transplantation, intra-allograft expression of chemokines in hearts from gallium nitrate-treated recipients indicated low levels of MIP-1[alpha], MIP-1[beta], and KC but high levels of interferon-[gamma]-inducible protein and RANTES.

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