Genetic engineering of donor pigs to eliminate expression of the dominant xenogeneic antigen galactose α1,3 galactose (Gal) has created a sea change in the immunobiology of xenograft rejection. Antibody mediated xenograft rejection of GGTA-1 α-galactosyltransferase (GTKO) deficient organs is now directed to a combination of non-Gal pig protein and carbohydrate antigens. Glycan analysis of GTKO tissues identified no new neo-antigens but detected high levels of N-acetylneuraminic acid (Neu5Gc) modified glycoproteins and glycolipids. Humans produce anti-Neu5Gc antibody and in very limited clinical studies sometimes show an induced anti-Neu5Gc antibody response after challenge with pig tissue. The pathogenicity of anti-Neu5Gc antibody in xenotransplantation is not clear however as non-human transplant models, critical for modelling anti-Gal immunity, do not produce anti-Neu5Gc antibody. Antibody induced after xenotransplantation in non-human primates is directed to an array of pig endothelial cells proteins and to a glycan produced by the pig B4GALNT2 gene. We anticipate that immune suppression will significantly affect the T-cell dependent and independent specificity of an induced antibody response and that donor pigs deficient in synthesis of multiple xenogeneic glycans will be important to future studies.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Funding for this work was provided to Dr. Byrne and McGregor by an Immunobiology of Xenotransplantation cooperative research grant ( AI066310 ) from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease at the National Institute of Health, by Comprehensive Biomedical Research Centre funds from the National Institute of Health Research, and supported by the National Institute for Health Research University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre. Dr. Breimer was supported by governmental grants to the Sahlgrenska University Hospital .
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