Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

An act of tolerance

A Correction to this article was published on 06 February 2012

This article has been updated

Each year, around 100,000 people worldwide receive solid organ transplants, and from the day of their surgery to the day they die almost all of them have to take daily immunosuppressant drugs to prevent the body from attacking the new organ. But an experimental procedure in which patients receive some of the donor's bone marrow in addition to the organ hopes to eliminate the need for lifelong drug therapy. Elie Dolgin talks to the scientists who are rejecting the idea of transplantation as usual.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Prices vary by article type



Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Change history

  • 06 February 2012

    In the January 2012 issue, the article entitled "An act of tolerance" (Nat. Med. 18, 12–16, 2011) incorrectly stated that Ray Owen's 1945 experiment showed that twin cattle sharing a common placenta but different fathers had the same set of human leukocyte antigen markers. Human leukocyte antigens had not been discovered yet, and Owen's work showed that the cattle shared red blood cell types instead. The error has been corrected in the HTML and PDF versions of the article.


  1. Kawau, T. et al. N. Engl. J. Med. 358, 353–361 (2008).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Engels, E.A. et al. J. Am. Med. Assoc. 306, 1891–1901 (2011).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Owen, R.D. Science 102, 400–401 (1945).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Billingham, R.E., Brent, L. & Medawar, R.B. Nature 172, 603–606 (1953).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Main, J.M. & Prehn, R.T. J. Natl. Cancer Inst. 15, 1023–1029 (1955).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Ildstad, S.T. & Sachs, D.H. Nature 307, 168–170 (1984).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Huang, C.A. et al. J. Clin. Invest. 105, 173–181 (2000).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Kawai, T. et al. Transplantation 59, 256–262 (1995).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Spitzer, T.R. et al. Transplantation 91, 672–676 (2011).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Millan, M.T. et al. Transplantation 73, 1386–91 (2002).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Scandling, J.D., Busque, S., Shizuru, J.A., Engleman, E.G. & Strober, S. N. Engl. J. Med. 365, 1359–1360 (2011).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Huang, Y. et al. Blood 117, 2494–2505 (2011).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Dolgin, E. An act of tolerance. Nat Med 18, 12–16 (2012).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing