Bringing Home The Bacon: Update on The State of Kidney Xenotransplantation

David K C Cooper, H Iwase, L Wang, T Yamamoto, Qi Li, J Li, H Zhou, H Hara
Blood Purification 2018, 45 (1-3): 254-259

BACKGROUND: There is a continuing critical shortage of organs from deceased human donors for transplantation, particularly for patients awaiting kidney transplantation. Efforts are being made to resolve the donor kidney shortage by the transplantation of kidneys from genetically-engineered pigs.

SUMMARY: This review outlines the pathobiological barriers to pig organ xenotransplantation in primates, which include (i) antibody-dependent complement-mediated rejection, (ii) a T cell-mediated elicited antibody and cellular response, (iii) coagulation dysregulation between pigs and primates, and (iv) a persistent inflammatory response. As a result of increasing genetic manipulation of the pig and the introduction of novel immunosuppressive agents, pig kidney graft survival has increased from minutes to months, and even to >1 year in some cases. Aspects of the selection of the patients for a first clinical trial are discussed. Although there would appear to be some cross-reactivity between anti-human leukocyte antigen (HLA) antibodies and swine leukocyte antigens expressed in pigs, some HLA-sensitized patients will be at no disadvantage if they receive a pig kidney. Furthermore, the current limited evidence is that, even if the patient becomes sensitized to pig antigens (after a pig organ transplant), this would not be detrimental to a subsequent allotransplant. The potential risk of infection with a pig microorganism, and the function of a pig kidney in a primate are also discussed. Key Message: The recent encouraging results of pig kidney transplantation in nonhuman primates suggest the likelihood of a successful (and safe) initial clinical trial, with graft survival for months or possibly years.

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