Publications & Reports

Current and future prospects for xenotransplantation.

French AJ, Greenstein JL, Loveland BE, Mountford PS
Centre for Early Human Development, Institute of Reproduction and Development, Monash University, Clayton, VIC, Australia. [email protected]


The transplantation of organs and tissues between animal species, or xenotransplantation, is the focus of a growing field of research, owing primarily to the increasing shortage of allogeneic donor organs. The pig stands out as the most suitable donor animal for humans; however, xenografts (e.g. pig organs) used for human transplantation are normally destroyed by the host within minutes by hyperacute xenograft rejection. An improved understanding of the immune recognition and rejection of xenografts has resulted in new therapies that can partially overcome hyperacute rejection (HAR), delayed xenograft rejection (DXR) or acute vascular xenograft rejection. Strategies to diminish immunogenicity following xenotransplantation can be divided into two approaches: those directed at the recipient (e.g. antibodies or complement depletion or inhibition and tolerance induction) and those directed at the donor (e.g. transgenic modifications to express human complement-regulatory proteins or removal or displacement of alphaGal epitopes). DXR is likely to be controlled by transgenic inhibition of endothelial cell activation (e.g. inhibition of NF-kappaB). Transgenic pigs required for xenotransplantation will soon be generated at a greater efficiency and precision using nuclear transfer and cloning when compared to pronuclear injection. Of greater significance is that nuclear transfer offers the ability to target gene insertion selectively to specific gene loci and to delete specific genes in the pig. Experimental pig-to-primate organ xenotransplantation is currently under way, and results show increased transplant function from minutes to days and weeks. The final therapeutic regimen that allows survival of a discordant xenograft is likely to involve a combination of ‘modified’ functional genes in the donor organ, the development of immunological tolerance to pig antigens and administration of novel therapeutic agents, including immunosuppressants, that can control natural killer (NK) cell and monocyte mediated responses.


  • Journal: Reproduction Fertility and Development
  • Published: 01/01/1998
  • Volume: 10
  • Issue: 7-8
  • Pagination: 683-696