[On the acceptability of xenografts]

Med Sci (Paris). 2005 Mar;21(3):302-8. doi: 10.1051/medsci/2005213302.
[Article in French]


Transplantation represents a major advance in modern medicine with a major impact on the interactions between individuals and society. The numbers of patients undergoing organ transplantation increased steadily over the years and around 250,000 individuals are living nowadays in Europe with a transplanted organ. On the other hand, the numbers of cadaveric (brain-dead) donors used for organ transplantation remains stable, at around 5,000 each year, and the numbers of transplantation from living donors only slowly increase in Europe. Therefore, a gap is growing between the numbers of patients in need of a transplant and the numbers of organs available for transplantation. About 45,000 patients are currently on renal transplant waiting lists in Europe and, depending on the countries considered, 15 to 30 % of candidates for liver or heart transplantation die before a life-saving transplant becomes available to them. There is therefore an urgent need to implement innovative research and to take full advantage of recent biotechnological advances to explore new avenues in xenotransplantation, and to simultaneously address the ethical, societal and public health issues related to organ replacement. Much progresses have been accomplished in the understanding of xenograft rejection processes that include hyperacute, acute vascular and cellular rejection mechanisms. Strategies to promote xenograft survival that are currently under evaluation include genetic engineering of donor pigs, adapted immunosuppressive treatments and tolerance induction. Also, the psychological acceptance has been evaluated.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Graft Rejection / etiology
  • Swine
  • Transplantation Immunology
  • Transplantation, Heterologous* / adverse effects
  • Transplantation, Heterologous* / psychology