Cardiac xenografting in the pig-to-rhesus monkey model: manipulation of antiendothelial antibody prolongs survival

J Heart Lung Transplant. Sep-Oct 1992;11(5):965-73; discussion 973-4.


Transplantation of immediately vascularized grafts across species barriers in which preformed cytotoxic antibodies exist, otherwise known as discordant combinations, has uniformly resulted in hyperacute rejection. We studied how well plasma exchange and perfusion through organs removes preformed immunoglobulin M cytotoxic antibodies and prolongs survival of a porcine heart heterotopically transplanted into a rhesus monkey. With the use of plasma exchange or absorption of antibodies by porcine kidney perfusion with or without immunosuppression, graft survival was prolonged, although antibody-mediated rejection ultimately occurred. In one case in which plasma exchange, kidney perfusion, and immunosuppression were combined, a functioning pig heart survived in a rhesus monkey for 8 days without evidence of rejection. The animal was killed on day 8 according to protocol because of a wound dehiscence. With this animal we were able to demonstrate that circulating antibodies against graft endothelium had bound to the graft endothelium without inducing rejection, a process referred to as accommodation. In this case, despite the presence of antiendothelial antibodies, complement did not appear to be activated, and fibrin thrombi did not form. Although we have achieved this rejection-free survival only in one animal, this case suggests that it may be possible to maintain xenotransplants in discordant species without rejection if preformed antibodies are appropriately lowered or altered during the initial period of graft implantation.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Heterophile / analysis*
  • Endothelium / immunology*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Graft Rejection / immunology
  • Graft Rejection / pathology
  • Graft Rejection / prevention & control*
  • Heart Transplantation / immunology*
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / administration & dosage
  • Kidney / blood supply
  • Macaca mulatta / immunology
  • Male
  • Myocardium / pathology
  • Perfusion
  • Plasma Exchange
  • Swine / immunology
  • Transplantation, Heterologous / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Heterophile
  • Immunosuppressive Agents