Inhibition of platelet aggregation in baboons: Therapeutic implications for xenotransplantation

Academic Article


  • Activation of endothelial cells and platelet sequestration play major roles in rejection of xenografts. The histopathology of both hyperacute and acute vascular or delayed rejection of vascularized discordant xenografts is characterized by interstitial hemorrhage and intravascular thrombosis. Agents that prevent platelet activation and consequent microthrombus formation have proven beneficial in xenograft rejection but do not fully preclude vascular thrombosis. Recently, several new anti-platelet therapies have undergone extensive clinical testing for atherosclerotic thrombotic vascular disorders; other putative therapies are undergoing pre-clinical evaluation. We have investigated the effect of several of these novel agents on platelet aggregation in baboons in order to screen for future potential in xenograft rejection models. Methods: Drugs tested in these experiments were aurintricarboxylic acid (ATA, von Willebrand Factor-GPIb inhibitor), fucoidin (a selectin-inhibitor), 1-benzylimidazole (1-BI, thromboxane synthase antagonist), prostacyclin (PGI2, endothelial stabilizer), heparin (thrombin antagonist), nitroprusside sodium or nicotinamide (NPN or NA, both NO-donors), and eptifibatide (EFT, GPIIb/IIIa receptor antagonist). These were infused intravenously to nine baboons. Coagulation parameters and platelet counts were monitored and baboons were observed for adverse side-effects. The efficacy of these agents in inhibiting platelet aggregation was assayed in a platelet aggregometer. Results: Treatment with ATA and fucoidin resulted in complete inhibition of platelet aggregation but also in major perturbation of coagulation parameters. 1-BI and PGI2 had no effect when administered alone, but in combination resulted in moderate inhibition of aggregation without disturbance in PT or PTT. NPN and NA had no substantive effects on platelet aggregation. Heparin resulted in specific inhibition of thrombin-induced platelet aggregation and, as anticipated, was associated with moderate prolongation of PTT. Importantly, EFT caused complete inhibition of platelet aggregation without changes in coagulation. Platelet counts, fibrinogen levels, and fibrinogen degradation products remained within the normal ranges in all experiments. Conclusions: Although excellent inhibition of platelet activation was obtained with ATA and fucoidin, clinical use may be precluded by concomitant disturbances of coagulation. Combinations of heparin and EFT may prove beneficial in preventing the thrombotic disorders associated with xenograft rejection while maintaining adequate hemostatic responses. These agents are to be evaluated in our pig-to-primate xenotransplantation models.
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    Author List

  • Alwayn IPJ; Appel JZ; Goepfert C; Buhler L; Cooper DKC; Robson SC
  • Start Page

  • 247
  • End Page

  • 257
  • Volume

  • 7
  • Issue

  • 4