The critical shortage of human donor organs for transplantation would be overcome if a suitable animal, e.g., the pig, could be used as an organ source. There are, however, several immune barriers that have to date resulted in limited function of pig organs transplanted into nonhuman primates. It would be beneficial, and indeed may be essential, to induce a state of tolerance in the primate recipient to the pig organ. In allotransplantation, the successful transplantation of hematopoietic progenitor cells with the development of mixed chimerism is associated with the induction of tolerance toward a donor-specific organ. For some years, this approach has been explored in the pig-to-nonhuman primate model. This experience is briefly reviewed. The problems of natural and elicited anti-pig antibodies, recipient platelet adhesion to pig hematopietic progenitor cells, and the rapid removal of these cells by the host macrophage-phagocytic system are highlighted. Recent experience with the use of hematopoietic cells from pigs homozygous for α1,3-galactosyltransferase gene-knockout is reported.
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