Background. Xenotransplantation would provide a solution to the current shortage of organs for transplantation. Our group has been successful in inducing tolerance in mice and monkey models of allogeneic transplantation. The present study attempts to extend the same tolerance-inducing regimen to a pig-to-baboon organ transplantation model. Methods. Nine baboons underwent a conditioning regimen (consisting of nonmyeloablative or myeloablative whole body and thymic irradiation, splenectomy, anti-thymocyte globulin, pharmacologic immunosuppression and porcine bone marrow transplantation [BMTx]), which has previously been demonstrated to induce donor-specific allograft tolerance in monkeys. In addition, immunoadsorption of anti-αGal antibody (Ab) was performed. Four of the nine baboons received pig kidney transplants (KTx), and one also underwent repeat transplantation with an SLA- matched kidney. Two received heterotopic pig heart transplants (HTx). Three baboons underwent conditioning without organ transplantation for long-term studies of natural Ab kinetics. Results. In the three baboons that received the conditioning regimen without an organ transplant, immunoadsorption reduced Ab by approximately 90%, but recovery of Ab to pretreatment level or higher occurred within 7 days. In contrast, the level of Ab remained low after organ transplant. No Ab to pig antigens other than αGal was detected in any baboon before or after BMTx, KTx, or HTx. No graft succumbed to hyperacute rejection. KTx function began to deteriorate within 3-6 days, with oliguria and hematuria progressing to anuria, and the kidneys were excised after 3, 6, 9, 11, and 14 days, respectively. One HTx ceased functioning at 8 days; the second baboon died with a contracting HTx at 15 days. Features of coagulopathy and thrombocytopenia developed in all six transplanted baboons (high D-dimer, prolonged prothrombin time and partial thromboplastin time, and falling fibrinogen) resulting in serious bleeding complications in two baboons, one of which died on day 9. Donor organs showed progressive acute humoral rejection with deposits of IgM, IgG, and complement; a focal mononuclear cellular infiltrate was also observed. The ureter was the earliest structure of the KTx affected by rejection, with progression to necrosis. Conclusions. This conditioning regimen prevented hyperacute rejection but was ineffective in preventing the return of Ab, which was associated with the development of acute humoral rejection with features of coagulopathy. No baboon developed anti-pig Ab other than αGal Ab. Further modifications of the protocol directed toward suppression of production of Ab are required to successfully induce tolerance to pig organs in baboons.
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