The use of xenografts (Xgs) from distantly related species to relieve the increasing shortage of organs for clinical transplantation is prevented by the occurrence of hyperacute rejection (HAR). This process, in which C activation plays a central role, cannot be inhibited with currently available immunosuppressants. In two clinically relevant xenotransplantation models, this study evaluated the effect of C inhibition using recombinant soluble complement receptor type 1 (sCR1) on HAR.
In an ex vivo model in which porcine cardiac Xgs were perfused with human blood, cardiac function ceased within 34 min when the perfusate blood was untreated (n=3). When the perfusate blood was treated with sCR1 (300 µg/ml), cardiac Xg function was maintained for up to 4 hr (n=3). Immunohistologic examination of these Xgs demonstrated deposition of C3b/iC3b and C3d in Xgs perfused with untreated human blood but only C3d deposition in those Xgs perfused with sCR1-treated human blood. These findings are consistent with the cofactor activity of sCR1 for factor I-mediated degradation of deposited C3b/iC3b to C3d. Treatment with sCR1 also prevented the histopathologic changes of HAR observed when untreated blood was used as the perfusate.
In an in vivo pig-to-primate heterotopic cardiac xenotransplantation model, in which porcine Xgs transplanted into untreated cynomolgus monkey recipients underwent HAR in 1 hr or less (n=3), a single intravenous bolus of sCR1 (15 mg/kg) administered to the recipient immediately before Xg reperfusion markedly inhibited total and alternative pathway serum C activity and prolonged Xg survival to between 48 and 90 hr (n=5). These studies confirm the important role of C activation in HAR of porcine cardiac Xgs by primates and indicate that sCR1 may be a useful agent for xenotransplantation.