Thrombin inhibition in discordant xenograft rejection

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Microvascular thrombosis and the associated platelet and endothelial cell activation are prominent observations in xenograft rejection. This pathological picture could be related to the excessive generation of thrombin in the context of either inflammation or putative inter-species molecular incompatibilities between activated coagulation factors and their natural anticoagulants. Relatively selective thrombin inhibition with the serine protease inhibitor SDZ MTH 958 (MTH-958) are independent of heparinoids and anti-thrombin III. MTH-958 has been shown to significantly prolong porcine cardiac function during perfusion with human blood in an ex vivo model. The aim of this study was to validate the role of thrombin generation in a rodent model of discordant xenograft rejection in vivo.The effect of thrombin inhibition with MTH-958 was tested in both hyperacute rejection (HAR) and delayed xenograft rejection (DXR) after decomplementation with cobra venom factor (CVF) in normal Lewis(Lew) rats and intrinsic C6 deficiency in PVG (C6-/PVG) recipient rats. Recipient rats received heterotopic guinea pig cardiac xenografts and were treated with titrated doses of MTH-958 until the time of graft rejection. Plasma samples at selected time points were examined to confirm effective thrombin inhibition, and rejected grafts were analyzed by immunohistology. MTH-958 significantly improved graft survival in HAR albeit the extent of prolongation was not marked, but the agent failed to prolong survival in CVF-treated Lew rats. In C6-/PVG rats receiving MTH-958, a significantly reduced graft survival time was observed when compared with C6-/PVG controls. The grafts from MTH-958-treated animals showed dense deposits of C3, IgM, and IgG with fibrin levels similar to controls.The thrombin antagonist tested could prolong xenograft survival during HAR but had no benefit in DXR. The relative non-specificity of the serine protease inhibitor MTH-958 with the potential activation of alternative pathway of complement via the inhibition of factor I could account for the failure to prolong xenograft survival in DXR. The pathogenetic significance of thrombin generation in this situation remains to be determined by the use of more selective and pharmacologically acceptable anti-thrombin agents.

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