Increasing evidence indicates that microbes have a large influence on immune function. Previous studies have linked pathogenic microorganisms with decreased allograft tolerance and subsequent rejection. In this issue of the JCI, Lei and colleagues demonstrate that commensal organisms also influence the host response to allograft transplantation. Using murine skin and cardiac transplant models, the authors demonstrate that allograft rejection is accelerated in mice with a normal microbiome compared with germ-free animals and antibiotic-treated mice. The increased graft rejection observed in conventional animals was due to enhanced T cell priming and was mediated through type I IFN. Together, these results suggest that altering a patient’s microbial community prior to transplant could improve allograft acceptance.
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