Potential deleterious role of anti-Neu5Gc antibodies in xenotransplantation

Xenotransplantation. 2015 Mar-Apr;22(2):85-94. doi: 10.1111/xen.12142. Epub 2014 Oct 13.


Human beings do not synthesize the glycolyl form of the sialic acid (Neu5Gc) and only express the acetylated form of the sugar, whereas a diet-based intake of Neu5Gc provokes a natural immunization and production of anti-Neu5Gc antibodies in human serum. However, Neu5Gc is expressed on mammal glycoproteins and glycolipids in most organs and cells. We review here the relevance of Neu5Gc and anti-Neu5Gc antibodies in the context of xenotransplantation and the use of animal-derived molecules and products, as well as the possible consequences of a long-term exposure to anti-Neu5Gc antibodies in recipients of xenografts. In addition, the importance of an accurate estimation of the anti-Neu5Gc response following xenotransplantation and the future contribution of knockout animals mimicking the human situation are also assessed.

Keywords: Neu5Gc; anti-Neu5Gc antibody; heart valves; neuraminic acid; pancreatic islets; sialic acid; xenotransplantation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Laboratory
  • Antibodies, Heterophile / blood*
  • Antigens, Heterophile / genetics
  • Antigens, Heterophile / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Models, Animal
  • Neuraminic Acids / immunology*
  • Organ Transplantation / adverse effects
  • Primates
  • Sus scrofa / genetics
  • Sus scrofa / immunology
  • Transplantation, Heterologous / adverse effects*


  • Antibodies, Heterophile
  • Antigens, Heterophile
  • Neuraminic Acids
  • N-glycolylneuraminic acid