Abstract: The significance of non-αgalactosyl antigens remains unclear in pig-to-primate xenotransplantation. Hanganutziu-Deicher (H-D) antigens with terminal N-glycolylneuraminic acid (NeuGc) are widely expressed on endothelial cells of mammalian species, with the exception of humans. As baboons and monkeys also express H-D antigens, a pig-to-non-human primate experimental model cannot resolve the question of whether H-D antigens can elicit a potent humoral response in human recipients. The purpose of this study was to elucidate the clinical significance of H-D antigens by examining the sera from patients who have been previously exposed to porcine tissue.
After the digestion of porcine aortic endothelial cells (PAEC) by neuraminidase, NeuGc and N-acetylneuraminic acid (NeuAc) were quantitated by HPLC. IgG and IgM antibody levels against H-D antigens were measured by NeuGc-GM3-coated ELISA plates in the sera of patients who had undergone ex vivo kidney perfusion 1 to 3 weeks and 2 years previously (n = 2) or had been injected with fetal porcine islets 2 months previously (n = 10).
HPLC determined that 9.7×107 NeuAc and 6.3×107 NeuGc residues per cell were released from PAEC by neuraminidase, while 25.7×107 NeuAc and an undetectable level of NeuGc were released from human aortic endothelial cells (HAEC). No significant elevation of IgG or IgM antibody levels against NeuGc-GM3 was observed in sera from patients with a history of porcine exposure.
Considering the active production of antibody against the foreign galactosyl antigens after pig-to-human xenotransplantation, some production of antibodies against the equally foreign H-D antigens would be expected, because large amounts of NeuGc terminated saccharides are present in the pig endothelial cell surface. However, no production of antibodies directed to H-D antigens could be found in patients exposed to porcine tissue. Further studies are warranted to explain why H-D antigens do not elicit a significant antibody production.