Preoperative depletion of C3 improves the survival of guinea pig-to-rat cardiac xenograft recipients


Transplant Research Laboratory, St. Luke's Medical Center


Rat strains with congenitally reduced total hemolytic complement activity do not reject cardiac xenografts hyperacutely. Prolongation of graft survival in the guinea pig-to-C6-deficient PVG rat donor/recipient combination has been observed. However, experience with this model has been complicated by a high postoperative mortality from respiratory distress. The authors hypothesized that placement of the xenograft resulted in local activation of complement, which contributed to remote pulmonary injury leading to respiratory dysfunction. To test this hypothesis, an attempt was made to reduce early complement component activation with the use of an antibody to rat C3 in C6-deficient PVG recipients. Six of eight untreated C6-deficient PVG recipients died in the immediate postoperative period with vigorously beating heart grafts, whereas only 2 of 14 C6-deficient recipients pretreated with anti-rat C3 antibody died within 24 h postoperatively. Although pretreatment with anti-C3 antibody improved survival of recipients, the duration of cardiac xenograft survival was similar whether the recipients were pretreated or not. The use of anti-C3 antibody in C6-deficient rats is a valid approach to studying xenotransplantation in the absence of hyperacute rejection and has an additional advantage in that it does not require the use of expensive reagents such as cobra venom factor.

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