The Role of the Alternative Complement Pathway in Early Graft Loss After Intraportal Porcine Islet Xenotransplantation

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Intraportal islet transplantation (ITx) causes instant blood-mediated inflammatory reaction (IBMIR), resulting in an early loss of transplanted islets. Porcine islets, transplanted intraportally into nonhuman primates (NHPs), induce complement activation, contributing to the development of IBMIR; however, the exact mechanism is not clear.


Complement activation were compared after incubation of purified adult porcine islets in 20% human serum with or without complement inhibitors, C1 esterase inhibitor (C1E-inh), anti-factor B, and purified human factor H. Intraportal porcine ITx was performed in diabetic NHPs to which cobra venom factor (CVF), factor H, or none of complement inhibitor was administered during the peritransplant period. The extent of complement activation and function of islet grafts were monitored after ITx.


The incubation of porcine islets with human serum resulted in generation of C3a, C4d, and factor Bb in the fluid phase. However, the generation of C3a after incubation was suppressed by anti-factor B or factor H, but not by C1E-inh. Moreover, in NHPs with porcine ITx, the administration of CVF or factor H ameliorated the increase in plasma C3a and factor Bb levels, as well as early release of porcine C-peptide after ITx. Furthermore, the functional survival of islet grafts was prolonged in the recipients of the CVF group compared to those in the control group.


The alternative complement pathway contributes to the development of IBMIR and the early loss of grafts in NHPs with porcine ITx. Complement inhibition during the peritransplant period may be beneficial for the survival of islet grafts.

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