Thrombotic microangiopathy and graft arteriopathy in pig hearts following transplantation into baboons

Academic Article


  • Background: Acute humoral xenograft rejection (AHXR) is an immunologic barrier in pig-to-baboon organ transplantation (Tx). We report microvascular thrombosis and myocardial necrosis in a series of cardiac xenografts. Methods: Ten baboons underwent heterotopic heart Tx from pigs transgenic for human decay-accelerating factor. Recipients were treated with soluble Gal glycoconjugates and multiple immunosuppressive agents. Grafts were removed when palpable contractions stopped. Stained tissue sections from harvested grafts were analyzed by light and fluorescence microscopy. Results: Xenograft survival ranged from 4 to 139 (mean 37, median 27) days. Some histology was typical for AHXR (n = 4; median survival 22 days). Hemorrhage and edema were only focal in the longer-surviving grafts (n = 4, median survival 54 days). All grafts had multiple platelet-rich fibrin thrombi occluding myocardial vessels. Ischemic damage was manifested by contraction band necrosis in four grafts, myocytolysis in eight, coagulative necrosis in nine, and patchy myocyte dropout in all grafts. A notable paucity of interstitial mononuclear cells was observed in all grafts. Marked intimal thickening resembling that of allograft vasculopathy was observed in one graft. Immunofluorescence showed immunoglobulin (Ig)G and/or IgM deposition in five grafts. Multivessel C4d deposition appeared in seven grafts. Significant C3 deposition was absent. Conclusions: Cardiac xenograft survival in the pig-to-baboon model can be significantly prolonged by vigorous immunosuppressive treatment of recipient animals. Additional efforts to block humoral activation of graft endothelial cells and/or to overcome species-specific molecular coagulation pathway incompatibilities may prevent the development of microvascular thrombosis and myocardial infarction. Cardiac xenograft vasculopathy (chronic rejection) can occur with prolonged graft survival.
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    Author List

  • Houser SL; Kuwaki K; Knosalla C; Dor FJMF; Gollackner B; Cheng J; Shimizu A; Schuurman HJ; Cooper DKC
  • Start Page

  • 416
  • End Page

  • 425
  • Volume

  • 11
  • Issue

  • 5