Modifying the sugar icing on the transplantation cake

Academic Article


  • © 2016 The Author. As a transplant surgeon, my interest in glycobiology began through my research into ABO-incompatible allotransplantation, and grew when my goal became overcoming the shortage of organs from deceased human donors by the transplantation of pig organs into patients with terminal organ failure (xenotransplantation/cross-species transplantation). The major target for human "natural" (preformed) anti-pig antibodies is galactose-α(1,3)-galactose (the "Gal" epitope), which is expressed on many pig cells, including the vascular endothelium. The binding of human IgM and IgG antibodies to Gal antigens initiates the process of hyperacute rejection, resulting in destruction of the pig graft within minutes or hours. This major barrier has been overcome by the production of pigs in which the gene for the enzyme α(1,3)-galactosyltransferase (GT) has been deleted by genetic engineering, resulting in GT knockout (GTKO) pigs. The two other known carbohydrate antigenic targets on pig cells for human anti-pig antibodies are (i) the product of the cytidine monophosphate-N-acetylneuraminic acid hydroxylase (CMAH) gene, i.e., N-glycolylneuraminic acid, and (ii) the product of the β1,4 N-acetylgalactosaminyltransferase gene, i.e., the Sd(a) antigen. Expression of these two has also been deleted in pigs. These genetic manipulations, together with others directed to overcoming primate complement and coagulation activation (the latter of which also relates to glycobiology) have contributed to the prolongation of pig graft survival in nonhuman primate recipients to many months rather than a few minutes. Clinical trials of the transplantation of pig cells are already underway and transplantation of pig organs may be expected within the relatively near future.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • Glycobiology  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Cooper DKC
  • Start Page

  • 571
  • End Page

  • 581
  • Volume

  • 26
  • Issue

  • 6