In vitro evaluation of neonatal human immunity against the pig

H. Xu, S. F. Oluwole, N. M. Edwards, J. M. Chen, Y. Naka, E. Kim, R. E. Michler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The critical shortage of organ donors has greatly limited the number of clinical allotransplantations. This is particularly true for neonatal patients, for whom xenotransplantation could provide an alternative therapeutic option to allotransplantation. The role of neonatal infant immunity in xenotransplantation is not, however, clearly understood. We examined both the proliferative responses of human neonatal lymphocytes to pig aortic endothelial cells and serum levels of neonatal natural antipig xenoantibody. Neonatal human lymphocytes and serum were isolated from umbilical cord blood. Adult human lymphocytes and serum were used as controls. A one-way xenogeneic mixed lymphocyte-endothelial cell reaction was performed, and lymphocyte proliferation was measured by tritiated thymidine uptake. Neonatal human lymphocytes recognized and proliferated in response to pig aortic endothelial cells (mean 63,926 ± 26,054 counts per minute). The level of xenogeneic mixed lymphocyte-endothelial cell reaction of neonatal lymphocytes was significantly lower (p < 0.004) than that of adult human lymphocytes (mean 122,444 ± 33,132 counts per minute). An enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay was performed to determine the binding of natural immunoglobulin M and G antibodies to pig endothelial cells. Whole-cell enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay demonstrated neonatal human serum to contain very low binding levels of natural antipig immunoglobulin M xenoantibody compared with adult serum. Like adult serum, neonatal human serum contained natural antipig immunoglobulin G xenoantibody. Neonatal serum was not cytotoxic to pig endothelial cells, suggesting that immunoglobulin G was not the predominant xenoreactive antibody. To assess whether neonatal pig endothelial cells also expressed xenoantigens, adult and neonatal cultured pig endothelial cells were examined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay with adult human serum. Adult human natural immunoglobulin M xenoantibody recognized not only adult pig endothelial cell xenoantigens but also neonatal pig endothelial cell xenoantigens. The binding levels of adult natural antipig immunoglobulin M xenoantibodies to adult and neonatal pig endothelial cells were similar, suggesting that neonatal pig aortic endothelial cells express xenoantigens. The findings of low binding levels of cytotoxic antipig immunoglobulin M xenoantibody and low levels of lymphocyte xenoreactivity to pig endothelial cells in human neonates suggests that pig organs may eventually be a suitable source of xenografts for human neonates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)920-929
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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