Cardiac xenotransplantation technology provides materials for improved bioprosthetic heart valves

Academic Article


  • Objectives: Human subjects and Old World primates have high levels of antibody to galactose-α-1,3 galactose β-1,4-N-acetylglucosamine (α-Gal). Commercially available bioprosthetic heart valves of porcine and bovine origin retain the Gal antigen despite current processing techniques. Gal-deficient pigs eliminate this xenoantigen. This study tests whether binding of human anti-Gal antibody effects calcification of wild-type and Gal-deficient glutaraldehyde-fixed porcine pericardium by using a standard subcutaneous implant model. Methods: Expression of α-Gal was characterized by lectin Griffonia simplicifolia-IB4 staining. Glutaraldehyde-fixed pericardial disks from Gal-positive and Gal-deficient pigs were implanted into 12-day-old Wistar rats and 1.5-kg rabbits with and without prelabeling with affinity-purified human anti-Gal antibody. Calcification of the implants was determined after 3 weeks by using inductively coupled plasma spectroscopy. Results: The α-Gal antigen was detected in wild-type but not Gal-deficient porcine pericardium. Wild-type disks prelabeled with human anti-Gal antibody exhibited significantly greater calcification compared with that seen in antibody-free wild-type samples (mean ± standard error of the mean: 111 ± 8.4 and 74 ± 9.6 mg/g, respectively; P = .01). In the presence of anti-Gal antibody, a significantly greater level of calcification was detected in wild-type compared with GTKO porcine pericardium (111 ± 8.4 and 55 ± 11.8 mg/g, respectively; P = .005). Calcification of Gal-deficient pericardium was not affected by the presence of anti-Gal antibody (51 ± 9.1 and 55 ± 11.8 mg/g). Conclusions: In this model anti-Gal antibody accelerates calcification of wild-type but not Gal-deficient glutaraldehyde-fixed pericardium. This study suggests that preformed anti-Gal antibody present in all patients might contribute to calcification of currently used bioprosthetic heart valves. Gal-deficient pigs might become the preferred source for new, potentially calcium-resistant bioprosthetic heart valves.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • McGregor CGA; Carpentier A; Lila N; Logan JS; Byrne GW
  • Start Page

  • 269
  • End Page

  • 275
  • Volume

  • 141
  • Issue

  • 1