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Transplantation. 1997 Mar 15;63(5):646-51.

Porcine and bovine cartilage transplants in cynomolgus monkey: II. Changes in anti-Gal response during chronic rejection.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, MCP-Hahnemann School of Medicine, Allegheny University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19129, USA.


The recent advances in avoiding hyperacute rejection by producing transgenic pigs with complement regulatory proteins call for the analysis of posttransplantation changes in anti-Gal activity in the absence of hyperacute rejection. Transplantation of cynomolgus monkeys with porcine or bovine meniscus and articular cartilage enabled the study of anti-Gal IgG response to xenografts that are not subjected to hyperacute rejection. The cartilage implants were kept in suprapatellar pouches of the recipients for 1 or 2 months and anti-Gal activity was measured in the serum at various time intervals after transplantation. Within 2 weeks after transplantation, titer of anti-Gal IgG, in all transplanted monkeys, increased by 20- to 100-fold, as measured in ELISA with synthetic alpha-galactosyl epitopes linked to bovine serum albumin or with mouse laminin. Furthermore, binding of serum anti-Gal to porcine endothelial cells increased by 10-fold or more after transplantation. Complement-mediated cytotoxicity also increased by two- to eightfold after transplantation. The elevated activity of anti-Gal was maintained for the 2-month period during which the grafts were kept in the monkeys, and returned to the pretransplantation level 6 months after graft removal. All these data suggest that the primate immune system responds vigorously to alpha-galactosyl epitopes on xenografts by activating many B lymphocytes that produce increased amounts of anti-Gal IgG, which may also be of high affinity. These antibodies are likely to bind to the xenograft cells, even if these cells express low numbers of alpha-galactosyl epitopes. Such antibody binding may play an important role in chronic rejection of xenografts.

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