The purpose of this study was to develop a nonhuman primate model for heterotopic composite tissue facial transplantation in which to study the natural history of facial transplantation and evaluate immunosuppressive regimens.
A composite oromandibular facial segment transplant based on the common carotid artery was evaluated. Flaps from 7 cynomolgus monkeys were transplanted to the groins of 7 recipients at the superficial femoral artery and vein. The immunosuppressive regimen consisted of thymoglobulin, rapamycin, and tacrolimus. Allograft survival ranged from 6 to 129 days. Histology performed in the long-term survivor at the time of necropsy revealed extensive inflammation and necrosis of the allograft skin; however, muscle and bone elements were viable, with minimal inflammation.
This heterotopic facial transplantation model avoids the potential morbidity of mandibular resection and orthotopic facial transplantation. Our work also concurs with the work of other groups who found that the skin component is the most antigenic.