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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Feb 22;102(8):2928-33. Epub 2005 Feb 14.

Embryonic pig liver, pancreas, and lung as a source for transplantation: optimal organogenesis without teratoma depends on distinct time windows.

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Department of Immunology, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100, Israel.


Pig embryonic tissues represent an attractive option for organ transplantation. However, the achievement of optimal organogenesis after transplantation, namely, maximal organ growth and function without teratoma development, represents a major challenge. In this study, we determined distinct gestational time windows for the growth of pig embryonic liver, pancreas, and lung precursors. Transplantation of embryonic-tissue precursors at various gestational ages [from E (embryonic day) 21 to E100] revealed a unique pattern of growth and differentiation for each embryonic organ. Maximal liver growth and function were achieved at the earliest teratoma-free gestational age (E28), whereas the growth and functional potential of the pancreas gradually increased toward E42 and E56 followed by a marked decline in insulin-secreting capacity at E80 and E100. Development of mature lung tissue containing essential respiratory system elements was observed at a relatively late gestational age (E56). These findings, showing distinct, optimal gestational time windows for transplantation of embryonic pig liver, pancreas, and lung, might explain, in part, the disappointing results in previous transplantation trials and could help enhance the chances for successful implementation of embryonic pig tissue in the treatment of a wide spectrum of human diseases.

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