BACKGROUND - The objective of this study was to evaluate the role of anti-Gal Abs and non-anti-Gal Abs in hyperacute rejection (HAR) of concordant pancreas xenografts compared with heart xenografts. In addition, we tested whether rejection of Lewis rat pancreas grafts was T-cell dependent and could be prevented by anti-T-cell treatment.
METHODS - To determine the role of anti-Gal Abs in the induction of HAR, Lewis rat pancreas and heart xenografts were transplanted into alpha1,3Galactosyltransferase knockout (GT-Ko) mice treated with normal human serum (NHS) or hyperimmune serum, or into presensitized GT-Ko mice. To investigate whether rejection of pancreas xenograft was mediated by a T-cell dependent response, Lewis rat pancreas grafts were transplanted into streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic GT-Ko mice treated with FK506, anti-CD4 mAbs (GK1.5), and thymectomy. Antidonor-specific IgM and IgG and anti-Gal Abs were analyzed by flow cytometry. Rejected and long-term surviving pancreas xenografts were assessed by functional (blood glucose) and histopathological examination.
RESULTS - HAR of Lewis rat pancreas xenografts could not be induced by NHS (0.4 ml), whereas NHS (0.2 ml) resulted in HAR of Lewis heart xenografts. Infusion of Lewis rat-specific hyperimmune serum (0.2 ml) resulted in HAR of Lewis rat pancreas xenografts. In addition, second Lewis rat pancreas grafts were hyperacutely rejected by presensitized GT-Ko mice. Immunohistochemical staining showed a low expression of Galalpha1,3Gal antigen in the endocrine tissue compared with that in the cardiac grafts. The levels of anti-Gal Abs in pancreas xenograft transplantation did not increase in GT-Ko mice after pancreas xenograft transplantation that was significantly increased after heart transplantation. FK506 treatment induced long-term survival of Lewis pancreas xenografts (mean survival time (MST) >90 days). Anti-CD4 treatment delayed rejection of Lewis rat pancreas xenografts with MST of 34.3 days, whereas anti-CD4, in combination with thymectomy, synergistically prolonged survival of pancreas xenograft (MST=70.4 days).
CONCLUSION - Pancreas xenograft is resistant to anti-Gal Abs-induced HAR but is susceptible to anti-donor specific Abs. Rejection of Lewis pancreas xenograft in STZ-induced, diabetic, GT-Ko mice is T-cell dependent.