Our research seeks clarification of the direct and indirect pathways of alloantigen recognition. In the direct pathway, whole MHC antigens are released from the transplanted organ in the first few weeks and are recognised as foreign by the individual’s immune system. This initiates a rapid and aggressive rejection response that can usually be controlled by immunosuppressive treatment.
In the indirect pathway, small fractions or peptides of the foreign MHC are continually presented to the recipient’s immune system, provoking a low-level but persistent rejection response that can be very hard to control by immunosuppressive treatment. By using inbred mice for transplant studies, it is possible to identify the role of particular MHC antigens and other key molecules of the immune system in the different recognition pathways.