The role of antibody responses against glycans in bioprosthetic heart valve calcification and deterioration

Nat Med. 2022 Feb;28(2):283-294. doi: 10.1038/s41591-022-01682-w. Epub 2022 Feb 17.


Bioprosthetic heart valves (BHVs) are commonly used to replace severely diseased heart valves but their susceptibility to structural valve degeneration (SVD) limits their use in young patients. We hypothesized that antibodies against immunogenic glycans present on BHVs, particularly antibodies against the xenoantigens galactose-α1,3-galactose (αGal) and N-glycolylneuraminic acid (Neu5Gc), could mediate their deterioration through calcification. We established a large longitudinal prospective international cohort of patients (n = 1668, 34 ± 43 months of follow-up (0.1-182); 4,998 blood samples) to investigate the hemodynamics and immune responses associated with BHVs up to 15 years after aortic valve replacement. Early signs of SVD appeared in <5% of BHV recipients within 2 years. The levels of both anti-αGal and anti-Neu5Gc IgGs significantly increased one month after BHV implantation. The levels of these IgGs declined thereafter but anti-αGal IgG levels declined significantly faster in control patients compared to BHV recipients. Neu5Gc, anti-Neu5Gc IgG and complement deposition were found in calcified BHVs at much higher levels than in calcified native aortic valves. Moreover, in mice, anti-Neu5Gc antibodies were unable to promote calcium deposition on subcutaneously implanted BHV tissue engineered to lack αGal and Neu5Gc antigens. These results indicate that BHVs manufactured using donor tissues deficient in αGal and Neu5Gc could be less prone to immune-mediated deterioration and have improved durability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibody Formation
  • Aortic Valve / pathology
  • Aortic Valve / surgery
  • Aortic Valve Stenosis
  • Bioprosthesis*
  • Calcinosis
  • Galactose*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Mice
  • Polysaccharides
  • Prospective Studies


  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Polysaccharides
  • Galactose

Supplementary concepts

  • Aortic Valve, Calcification of