Pig endogenous retroviruses and xenotransplantation

Xenotransplantation. 2002 Jul;9(4):242-51. doi: 10.1034/j.1399-3089.2002.01110.x.


Xenotransplantation of porcine organs might provide an unlimited source of donor organs to treat endstage organ failure diseases in humans. However, pigs harbour retroviruses with unknown pathogenic potential as an integral part of their genome. While until recently the risk of interspecies transmission of these porcine endogenous retroviruses (PERV) during xenotransplantation has been thought to be negligible, several reports on infection of human cells in vitro and spread of PERV from transplanted porcine islets in murine model systems have somewhat challenged this view. Here, we compile available data on PERV biology and diagnostics, and discuss the significance of the results with regard to the safety of clinical xenotransplantation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Endogenous Retroviruses / classification
  • Endogenous Retroviruses / isolation & purification*
  • Mice
  • Models, Animal
  • Phylogeny
  • Primates
  • Rats
  • Retroviridae Infections / transmission
  • Retroviridae Infections / veterinary*
  • Swine
  • Transplantation, Heterologous / adverse effects*
  • Zoonoses