Genetic modification of alphaGal expression in xenogeneic endothelial cells yields a complex immunological response

Tissue Eng. 2001 Dec;7(6):743-56. doi: 10.1089/107632701753337690.


The source of cells for tissue engineering applications remains a hurdle, predominantly for procedures in which there is insufficient time to harvest a patient's own cells. Animal cells are readily available, but undergo immune rejection. Rejection of animal (i.e., xenogeneic) tissue involves practically every component of the immune system. The initial phase, hyperacute rejection (HAR), involves natural xenoreactive antibodies and the complement system, and leads to endothelial cell lysis and rapid tissue destruction. The cell-surface epitope, galactose-alpha(1,3)-galactose (alphaGal), is presumed to play a key role in HAR. The later stage of immune response (delayed xenograft rejection or DXR), is mediated by immune cells such as monocytes. Carbohydrates are likely also involved in DXR, but their role in this phase of the immune response is less clear. A better understanding of all stages of xenogeneic immune rejection may make it feasible to create cell lines that are immune tolerant. In these studies, we have genetically modified bovine endothelial cells to study the roles of carbohydrates in immune rejection. Our studies suggest that one or more epitopes other than alphaGal may influence complement-mediated lysis. Furthermore, antibodies, as instigators in the complement response, and monocytes appear to recognize different cell surface epitopes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / cytology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / immunology*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / transplantation
  • Galactosyltransferases / genetics
  • Galactosyltransferases / immunology*
  • Graft Rejection / genetics*
  • Graft Rejection / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Tissue Engineering
  • Transplantation Immunology
  • Transplantation, Heterologous / immunology*


  • Galactosyltransferases
  • N-acetyllactosaminide alpha-1,3-galactosyltransferase