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Am J Transplant. 2004 Dec;4(12):1958-63.

Complete inhibition of acute humoral rejection using regulated expression of membrane-tethered anticoagulants on xenograft endothelium.

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Department of Immunology, MRC Clinical Sciences Centre, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, Hammersmith Campus, Du Cane Road, London, W12 0NN, UK.


Xenotransplantation promises an unlimited supply of organs for clinical transplantation. However, an aggressive humoral immune response continues to limit the survival of pig organs after transplantation into primates. Because intravascular thrombosis and systemic coagulopathy are prominent features of acute humoral xenograft rejection, we hypothesized that expression of anticoagulants on xenogeneic vascular endothelium might inhibit the process. Hearts from novel transgenic mice, expressing membrane-tethered fusion proteins based on human tissue factor pathway inhibitor and hirudin, respectively, were transplanted into rats. In contrast to control non-transgenic mouse hearts, which were all rejected within 3 days, 100% of the organs from both strains of transgenic mice were completely resistant to humoral rejection and survived for more than 100 days when T-cell-mediated rejection was inhibited by administration of ciclosporin A. These results demonstrate the critical role of coagulation in the pathophysiology of acute humoral rejection and the potential for inhibiting rejection by targeting the expression of anticoagulants to graft endothelial cells. This genetic strategy could be applied in a clinically relevant species such as the pig.

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