Research Group

  • Dr A. John Iafrate, Principal Investigator
  • Dr Rex Neal Smith, Co-Investigator
  • Dr Sara Akhavanfard, Research Fellow


  • Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, USA


  • Can Cells from a Transplant Recipient Integrate into a Transplanted Organ?

It is now known that during the life of a transplanted organ, host cells can enter and even become part of that organ. When an organ or tissue is comprised of cells from two genetically distinct individuals it is known as chimerism. It is hypothesized that host cells entering transplanted organs can be involved in remodeling of that organ, and even be protective. The protective effect of this chimerism may in part be because there is no longer an immune response against those cells which are seen by the host immune system as self. Scientific tools to follow such events have consisted mostly of in situ hybridization using the Y chromosome, which naturally is limited to transplant situations where the donor and recipient are of opposite sex.

Our group’s work on the human genome has identified deletions on non-sex chromosomes that are polymorphic in the human population. In short, some people have this particular piece of DNA while others are lacking that region. We have targeted these regions with in situ hybridization probes, so that we can now study the phenomenon of chimerism when the donor and recipient are of the same sex. We are hopeful that analysis of transplant chimerism will give insight into the reasons some transplants survive longer, at the very minimum it will give us a better understanding of the dynamics of cell turn-over in transplanted organs.

Progress Report

Final Report