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Transplantation. 1994 May 27;57(10):1462-5.

Screening donors for xenotransplantation. The potential for xenozoonoses.

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University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pennsylvania.


Xenotransplantation is a potential solution to the current donor shortage for solid organ transplantation. The transmission of infectious agents from donor organs or bone marrow to the recipient is a well-recognized phenomenon following allotransplantation. Thus the prospect of xenotransplantation raises the issue of xenozoonoses--i.e., the transmission of animal infections to the human host. Anticipating an increasing number of baboon to human transplants, 31 adult male baboons (Papio cynocephalus) from a single colony in the United States were screened for the presence of antibody to microbial agents (principally viral) that may pose a significant risk of infection. Antibody to simian cytomegalovirus, simian agent 8 and Epstein-Barr virus, was found in 97% of animals tested. Antibody to simian retroviruses and Toxoplasma gondii was found in 30% and 32% respectively. Discordant results were found when paired samples were examined by two primate laboratories. This was particularly noted when methodologies were based on cross-reaction with human viral antigens. These results highlight the need to develop specific antibody tests against the species used for xenotransplantation.

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