Anti-N-glycolylneuraminic acid antibodies identified in healthy human serum

Xenotransplantation. 2002 Nov;9(6):376-81. doi: 10.1034/j.1399-3089.2002.02138.x.


The first and major clinical obstacle in xenotransplantation is antibody-mediated hyperacute rejection. Although human natural antibodies against Galalpha1,3Gal (Gal) antigens, which are common on porcine cells and organs, have been identified to play a major role in hyperacute rejection, other natural antibodies against non-Gal epitopes may be also involved in the process. Here, we present evidence suggesting that the majority of human anti-non-Gal antibodies are specific for carbohydrate structures carrying terminally linked N-glycolylneuraminic acid (NeuGc), a xenoantigen existing in almost all animals except humans. Furthermore, this anti-NeuGc activity is detectable in 85% of healthy humans, implicating the involvement of NeuGc in hyperacute rejection and the importance of developing strategies for removing NeuGc for clinical xenotransplantation.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Heterophile / blood
  • Antibody Specificity
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / immunology
  • Neuraminic Acids / immunology*
  • Transplantation, Heterologous / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Heterophile
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Neuraminic Acids
  • N-glycolylneuraminic acid