Successful cardiac xenotransplantation would alleviate the severe shortage of donor organs that presently limits the availability of cardiac transplantation. Early attempts at human xenotransplantation achieved minimal success. However, the effectiveness of cyclosporine in nonhuman xenotransplant models has received little experimental investigation. We have therefore studied the effect of cyclosporine-based immunosuppression in primate cardiac xenograft models using cynomolgus monkey donors and baboon recipients. Donor hearts were transplanted heterotopically into the necks of recipients or in the orthotopic position. Recipients were treated with no immunosuppression (controls), cyclosporine and steroids, or cyclosporine, steroids, azathioprine, and antithymocyte globulin. Statistically significant prolongation of graft survival compared to the control group was observed in the heterotopic groups. Mean survival time of the cyclosporine-treated and steroid-treated heterotopic grafts was 61 days compared to 6 days for grafts in the control group (p = 0.01); the addition of azathioprine and antithymocyte globulin yielded a mean survival of 84 days (p < 0.01). No significant increase in graft survival was noted in the orthotopic groups treated with either immunosuppressive regimen. Although long-term use of human xenografts as an alternative for heart replacement is not supported by these data, further investigation of the orthotopic model is clearly justified.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine