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Keywords:

  • endothelial cells;
  • human anti-β-galactose IgG;
  • lectins;
  • pig;
  • xeno-antigen;
  • xeno-antibody

Abstract: The identification of the xeno-antigens/xeno-antibodies combinations involved in pig-to-human xenograft rejection is an essential step for understanding this process and for the development of procedures to prevent it. Although it is widely accepted that the terminal disaccharide Galα1,3Gal-R is by far the major epitope recognized by human natural antibodies reactive with pig tissues, there is also evidence that other carbohydrates epitopes might be important in xenograft rejection.

In an attempt to further improve our knowledge of the repertoire of human natural antibodies with anti-pig specificity we sought to determine whether naturally occurring human anti-β-galactose IgG could interact with porcine aortic endothelial cells (PAEC). Histochemical analysis of porcine aorta sections revealed that the carbohydrate structures recognized by the anti-β-galalactose IgG are present on endothelial cells but in a cryptic form that can be unmasked by sialidase treatment. These structures were also found to be cryptic in cultured PAEC. In addition we demonstrated that PAEC may adsorb fetal calf serum (FCS) glycoproteins when cultured in FCS-supplemented medium, a process susceptible to generating artifactual observations in carbohydrate antigens analysis.

In conclusion, despite their abundance, human anti-β-galactose IgG do not represent a primary concern in pig-to-human xenotransplantation as the carbohydrate structures to which they bind are normally masked by sialic acid residues on porcine endothelial cells. However, whether these cryptic epitopes might be exposed on endothelial cells from genetically engineered animals should be further investigated because, if so, additional approaches will be needed to suppress their interaction with human anti-β-galactose IgG.