Factors in xenograft rejection

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1999 Jun 18;875:261-76. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.1999.tb08509.x.


Important mechanisms underlying immediate xenograft loss by hyperacute rejection (HAR), in the pig-to-primate combination, have been recently delineated. There are now several proposed therapies that deal with the problem of complement activation and xenoreactive natural antibody (XNA) binding to the vasculature that have been shown to prevent HAR. However, vascularized xenografts are still lost, typically within days, by delayed xenograft rejection (DXR), alternatively known as acute vascular rejection (AVR). This process is characterized by endothelial cell (EC) perturbation, localization of XNA within the graft vasculature, host NK cell and monocyte activation with platelet sequestration and vascular thrombosis. Alternative immunosuppressive strategies, additive anti-complement therapies with the control of any resulting EC activation processes and induction of protective responses have been proposed to ameliorate this pathological process. In addition, several potentially important molecular incompatibilities between activated human coagulation factors and the natural anticoagulants expressed on porcine EC have been noted. Such incompatibilities may be analogous to cross-species alterations in the function of complement regulatory proteins important in HAR. Disordered thromboregulation is potentially relevant to the progression of inflammatory events in DXR and the disseminated intravascular coagulation seen in primate recipients of porcine renal xenografts. We have recently demonstrated the inability of porcine tissue factor pathway inhibitor (TFPI) to adequately neutralize human factor Xa (FXa), the aberrant activation of both human prothrombin and FXa by porcine EC and the failure of the porcine natural anticoagulant, thrombomodulin to bind human thrombin and hence activate human protein C. The enhanced potential of porcine von Willebrand factor to associate with human platelet GPIb has been demonstrated to be dependent upon the isolated A1 domain of von Willebrand factor. In addition, the loss of TFPI and vascular ATPDase/CD39 activity following EC activation responses would potentiate any procoagulant changes within the xenograft. These developments could exacerbate vascular damage from whatever cause and enhance the activation of platelets and coagulation pathways within xenografts resulting in graft infarction and loss. Analysis of these and the other putative factors underlying DXR should lead to the development and testing of genetic approaches that, in conjunction with selected pharmacological means, may further prolong xenograft survival to a clinically relevant extent.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Endothelium / cytology
  • Endothelium / immunology
  • Graft Rejection / immunology*
  • Hemostasis / immunology
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes / immunology
  • Transplantation, Heterologous / immunology*