Background: Mortality for infants on the heart transplant waitlist remains unacceptably high, and available mechanical circulatory support is suboptimal. Our goal is to demonstrate the feasibility of utilizing genetically engineered pig (GEP) heart as a bridge to allotransplantation by transplantation of a GEP heart in a baboon.
Methods: Four baboons underwent orthotopic cardiac transplantation from GEP donors. All donor pigs had galactosyl-1,3-galactose knocked out. Two donor pigs had human complement regulatory CD55 transgene and the other 2 had human complement regulatory CD46 and thrombomodulin. Induction immunosuppression included thymoglobulin, and anti-CD20. Maintenance immunosuppression was rapamycin, anti-CD-40, and methylprednisolone. One donor heart was preserved with University of Wisconsin solution and the other three with del Nido solution.
Results: All baboons weaned from cardiopulmonary bypass. B217 received a donor heart preserved with University of Wisconsin solution. Ventricular arrhythmias and depressed cardiac function resulted in early death. All recipients of del Nido preserved hearts easily weaned from cardiopulmonary bypass with minimal inotropic support. B15416 and B1917 survived for 90 days and 241 days, respectively. Histopathology in B15416 revealed no significant myocardial rejection but cellular infiltrate around Purkinje fibers. Histopathology in B1917 was consistent with severe rejection. B37367 had uneventful transplant but developed significant respiratory distress with cardiac arrest.
Conclusions: Survival of B15416 and B1917 demonstrates the feasibility of pursuing additional research to document the ability to bridge an infant to cardiac allotransplant with a GEP heart.
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