Anti-thymoglobulin induction improves neonatal porcine xenoislet engraftment and survival

Xenotransplantation. 2021 Nov;28(6):e12713. doi: 10.1111/xen.12713.


Porcine islet xenotransplantation is a viable strategy to treat diabetes. Its translation has been limited by the pre-clinical development of a clinically available immunosuppressive regimen. We tested two clinically relevant induction agents in a non-human primate (NHP) islet xenotransplantation model to compare depletional versus nondepletional induction immunosuppression. Neonatal porcine islets were isolated from GKO or hCD46/GKO transgenic piglets and transplanted via portal vein infusion in diabetic rhesus macaques. Induction therapy consisted of either basiliximab (n = 6) or rhesus-specific anti-thymocyte globulin (rhATG, n = 6), combined with a maintenance regimen using B7 costimulation blockade, tacrolimus with a delayed transition to sirolimus, and mycophenolate mofetil. Xenografts were monitored by blood glucose levels and porcine C-peptide measurements. Of the six receiving basiliximab induction, engraftment was achieved in 4 with median graft survival of 14 days. All six receiving rhATG induction engrafted with significantly longer xenograft survival at 40.5 days (P = 0.03). These data suggest that depletional induction provides superior xenograft survival to nondepletional induction, in the setting of a costimulation blockade-based maintenance regimen.

Keywords: belatacept; islet transplantation; rhesus anti-thymocyte globulin; xenotransplantation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural