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Xenotransplantation. 2015 Mar-Apr;22(2):85-94. doi: 10.1111/xen.12142. Epub 2014 Oct 13.

Potential deleterious role of anti-Neu5Gc antibodies in xenotransplantation.

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INSERM UMR1064, Centre for Research in Transplantation and Immunology-ITUN, Université de Nantes, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Hôtel-Dieu, Nantes, France; Société d'Accélération du Transfert de Technologies Ouest Valorisation, Rennes Cedex, France.


Human beings do not synthesize the glycolyl form of the sialic acid (Neu5Gc) and only express the acetylated form of the sugar, whereas a diet-based intake of Neu5Gc provokes a natural immunization and production of anti-Neu5Gc antibodies in human serum. However, Neu5Gc is expressed on mammal glycoproteins and glycolipids in most organs and cells. We review here the relevance of Neu5Gc and anti-Neu5Gc antibodies in the context of xenotransplantation and the use of animal-derived molecules and products, as well as the possible consequences of a long-term exposure to anti-Neu5Gc antibodies in recipients of xenografts. In addition, the importance of an accurate estimation of the anti-Neu5Gc response following xenotransplantation and the future contribution of knockout animals mimicking the human situation are also assessed.


Neu5Gc; anti-Neu5Gc antibody; heart valves; neuraminic acid; pancreatic islets; sialic acid; xenotransplantation

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