Composite tissue allotransplantation (CTA) is the new frontier in transplantation. More than 25 hand allograft transplants have been performed worldwide, and the feasibility has been well established. The classical experimental model of CTA involves rat orthotopic hindlimb transplantation, a time-consuming procedure associated with high mortality and morbidity. We describe a rat heterotopic osteomyocutaneous flap that serves as a nonfunctional CTA, allowing the study of tolerance induction to a highly antigenic vascularized allograft of bone, muscle, and skin while minimizing the morbidity and mortality of full hind limb transplantation. In the present studies, we explored whether establishing chimerism by nonmyeloablative conditioning would induce tolerance to CTA. When compared with the classic hind limb transplantation model, these results demonstrate that our heterotopic hind limb flap is less morbid and as an effective experimental model for the study of CTA tolerance.
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