BACKGROUND. The recent availability of α1,3-galactosyltransferase knockout (GalT-KO) miniature swine has eliminated anti-Gal antibodies as the major barrier to xenotransplantation, potentially bringing this modality closer to clinical application. Highly-allosensitized patients, who have poor prospects of receiving a suitable cross-match negative human organ, might be the first patients to benefit from xenotransplantation of porcine organs. However, concerns exist regarding cross-reactivity of alloreactive anti-human leukocyte antigen (HLA) antibodies against xenogeneic swine leukocyte antigen (SLA) antigens. We have investigated this question using sera from such patients on GalT-KO target cells. METHODS. Using flow cytometry and complement-dependent cytotoxicity (CDC) assays, we have tested a panel of 88 human serum samples from patients awaiting cadaveric renal allotransplantation for reactivity against: 1) human; 2) standard miniature swine; and 3) GalT-KO peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) and cultured endothelial cells. RESULTS. Anti-swine IgM and IgG antibody binding, as well as CDC, were significantly attenuated on GalT-KO versus standard swine. No correlation was found between the degree of anti-human panel reactive antibodies (PRA) and xenoreactivity against either standard or GalT-KO miniature swine. Treatment of sera with dithiothreitol (DTT) showed that the majority of remaining lymphocytotoxicity against GalT-KO swine was mediated by preformed IgM antibodies. Patients with high alloreactivity but low anti-GalT-KO xenoreactivity were readily identified. CONCLUSIONS. Highly allosensitized patients awaiting renal transplants appear to be at no increased risk of xenosensitization over their non-sensitized cohorts, and could therefore be candidates for xenotransplantation using GalT-KO swine donors.
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