Xenotransplantation using pig organs has achieved survival times of more than 195 days in pig orthotopic heart transplantation into baboons. Here we demonstrate that in addition to an improved immunosuppressive regimen, non-ischaemic preservation with continuous perfusion and control of post-transplantation growth of the transplant, prevention of transmission of the porcine cytomegalovirus (PCMV) plays an important role in achieving long survival times. For the first time we demonstrate that PCMV transmission in orthotopic pig heart xenotransplantation was associated with a reduced survival time of the transplant and increased levels of IL-6 and TNFα were found in the transplanted baboon. Furthermore, high levels of tPA-PAI-1 complexes were found, suggesting a complete loss of the profibrinolytic properties of the endothelial cells. These data show that PCMV has an important impact on transplant survival and call for elimination of PCMV from donor pigs.
The porcine cytomegalovirus (PCMV) is a herpesvirus that may pose a risk for xenotransplantation using pig cells, tissues, or organs. Here, three orthotopic pig heart transplantations into baboons were studied. To detect PCMV, a real-time PCR and a Western blot assay based on four PCMV protein sequences, including two tegument proteins, were used. The transmission of PCMV from the donor pig to the recipient baboon was found in two cases, despite PCMV not being detected in the blood of the donor pigs by real-time PCR. Although it was not in the blood, PCMV was detected in different organs of the donor pigs, and in sibling animals. Immunohistochemistry using an antiserum that is specific for PCMV detected virus protein-expressing cells in all of the organs of the recipient baboon, most likely representing disseminated pig cells. Therefore, for the first time, the distribution of PCMV in organs of the donor pigs and the recipient baboons was described. In addition, baboon cytomegalovirus (BaCMV) was found activated in the recipient, and a screening for hepatitis E virus (HEV) and porcine lymphotropic herpesviruses (PLHV) was performed. For the first time, a cross-reactivity between antibodies directed against PCMV and BaCMV was found.
Successful preclinical transplantations of porcine hearts into baboon recipients are required before commencing clinical trials. Despite years of research, over half of the orthotopic cardiac xenografts were lost during the first 48 hours after transplantation, primarily caused by perioperative cardiac xenograft dysfunction (PCXD). To decrease the rate of PCXD, we adopted a preservation technique of cold non‐ischemic perfusion for our ongoing pig‐to‐baboon cardiac xenotransplantation project.
Fourteen orthotopic cardiac xenotransplantation experiments were carried out with genetically modified juvenile pigs (GGTA1‐ KO/hCD46/hTBM) as donors and captive‐bred baboons as recipients. Organ preservation was compared according to the two techniques applied: cold static ischemic cardioplegia (IC; n = 5) and cold non‐ischemic continuous perfusion (CP; n = 9) with an oxygenated albumin‐containing hyperoncotic cardioplegic solution containing nutrients, erythrocytes and hormones. Prior to surgery, we measured serum levels of preformed anti‐non‐Gal‐antibodies. During surgery, hemodynamic parameters were monitored with transpulmonary thermodilution. Central venous blood gas analyses were taken at regular intervals to estimate oxygen extraction, as well as lactate production. After surgery, we measured troponine T and serum parameters of the recipient’s kidney, liver and coagulation functions.
In porcine grafts preserved with IC, we found significantly depressed systolic cardiac function after transplantation which did not recover despite increasing inotropic support. Postoperative oxygen extraction and lactate production were significantly increased. Troponin T, creatinine, aspartate aminotransferase levels were pathologically high, whereas prothrombin ratios were abnormally low. In three of five IC experiments, PCXD developed within 24 hours. By contrast, all nine hearts preserved with CP retained fully preserved systolic function, none showed any signs of PCXD. Oxygen extraction was within normal ranges; serum lactate as well as parameters of organ functions were only mildly elevated. Preformed anti‐non‐Gal‐antibodies were similar in recipients receiving grafts from either IC or CP preservation.
While standard ischemic cardioplegia solutions have been used with great success in human allotransplantation over many years, our data indicate that they are insufficient for preservation of porcine hearts transplanted into baboons: Ischemic storage caused severe impairment of cardiac function and decreased tissue oxygen supply, leading to multi‐organ failure in more than half of the xenotransplantation experiments. In contrast, cold non‐ischemic heart preservation with continuous perfusion reliably prevented early graft failure. Consistent survival in the perioperative phase is a prerequisite for preclinical long‐term results after cardiac xenotransplantation.
This is the first description of a heterotopic thoracic pig-to-baboon heart transplantation. The procedure combines the advantages of a working heart model with the safety of heterotopic transplantation. In contrast to orthotopic transplantation, the recipient heart can assist the donor heart during episodes of rejection. We believe that the heterotopic thoracic model may accelerate the progress into the clinical application of cardiac xenotransplantation. However, successful combination of this heterotopic transplantation with an experimental model of cardiac failure may be needed before this technique can be promoted to clinical trials.
Xenotransplantation using pig organs has achieved survival times up to 195 days in pig orthotopic heart transplantation into baboons. Here we demonstrate that in addition to an improved immunosuppressive regimen, non-ischaemic preservation with continuous perfusion and control of post-transplantation growth of the transplant, prevention of transmission of the porcine cytomegalovirus (PCMV) plays an important role in achieving long survival times. For the first time we demonstrate that PCMV transmission in orthotopic pig heart xenotransplantation was associated with a reduced survival time of the transplant and increased levels of IL-6 and TNFα were found in the transplanted baboon. Furthermore, high levels of tPA-PAI-1 complexes were found, suggesting a complete loss of the pro-fibrinolytic properties of the endothelial cells. These data show that PCMV has an important impact on transplant survival and call for elimination of PCMV from donor pigs.
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