Non-human to human organ transplantation: its biologic basis and a potential role for radiation therapy.
There is an inadequate supply of human donor organs for transplantation. Xenotransplantation, the transplantation of organs from non-human animals to humans, is one of the potential solutions to this problem. The pig appears to be the preferred donor. For xenotransplantation to be successful, researchers must deal with three fundamental problems: (1) Hyperacute rejection of porcine organs, related to binding of xenoreactive natural antibodies of the recipient to antigens on the graft's endothelial cells, must be overcome. (2) Transmission of animal pathogens to humans must be prevented. Concern about zoonosis is not only directed to the transplant recipient but also concerns the risk that an infectious agent will be transferred from the recipient to the general population. (3) The xenografted organ must be physiologically compatible with the recipient. The physiological function of a pig organ in a human and its ability to sustain a human are problematic. Total lymphoid irradiation (TLI) and thoraco-abdominal irradiation (TAI) as immunosuppressive modalities have been investigated in rodent-to-rodent, large mammals and non-human primates-to-primates, and pig-to-primate models. In certain clinical situations, TLI and TAI may prove to be important components for the preparation of the xenotransplant recipient. Progress in genetic engineering and cloning may soon lead to clinical trials in xenotransplantation.
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