Although most investigators agree that lung dysfunction occurs rapidly in various pig-to-primate hyperacute lung rejection (HALR) models, the basic mechanisms mediating this phenomenon remain in question. Here we describe an immunohistochemical method for assessment of mechanisms driving HALR. Using an established model wherein piglet lungs are perfused ex vivo with human blood, six experimental groups (K76 COOH; FUT-175; K76 with FUT; anti-α-Gal column adsorption; column with FUT; and column with K76) and two control groups (unmodified human blood; autologous pig blood) were studied. Each lung was biopsied serially during perfusion, and assessed using an immunohistochemical technique, with vWF staining as an internal control to quantitate binding of human IgM, IgG, C3, C5b-9, properdin, and C1q. The effect of each treatment and subsequent lung perfusion on IgG and IgM anti- α-Gal titers(by ELISA) and on pig endothelial cell cytotoxicity were correlated with histologic findings. We found that  the classical complement activation pathway was activated, as has been shown for other pig organs in primate or human blood environments ; alternative complement pathway activation is also seen, which has not been described for other organs in pig-to-primate models, but only in the context of classical pathway activation; and  anti-Gal column absorption, pharmacologic inhibition of complement, or combination therapy each was associated with histologic evidence of partial protection, consistent with what would be predicted for each intervention. Further, immunohistologic differences correlated with physiologic outcomes  and with antibody assay results, and revealed that treatments used were incompletely effective. Our data suggest that more complete inhibition of antibody- and complement-driven pathways than was achieved in these experiments will be necessary to prevent the antibody and complement-mediated facets of hyperacute lung rejection. This immunohistologic technique may also help us identify additional pathogenic mechanisms important to eventual clinical application of pig-to-human lung xenografts.
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