The effect of bursectomy on natural xenoreactive antibodies and vascularized rat cardiac xenograft rejection in the chicken

Scott K. Pruitt, Daniel Weinstock, M. Mitsu Suvemoto, Fred Sanfilippo, William M. Baldwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The clinical application of xenotransplantation between distantly related species is currently prevented by the occurrence of hyperacute rejection (HAR). Controversy exists over the importance of natural xenoreactive antibody (NAb)-mediated activation of the classical complement pathway vs. direct activation of the alternative C pathway in this process. In order to evaluate HAR of xenografts (Xgs) in the absence of NAb, this study utilized K strain leghorn chickens that were bursectomized (Bx) on day 17 in ovo (n=18) to prevent B cell development and production of NAb. Aged-matched untreated siblings served as controls (n=13). Based on pretransplant antibody levels, the Bx chickens were divided into two groups: totally Bx (Total Bx, n=9) and partially Bx (Part Bx, n=9). Chickens then underwent heterotopic cardiac xenotransplantation using PVG rats as donors, where the Xg was connected to the circulation of the chicken recipient utilizing cannulae. For the control group, Xg survival was 28±3 min (mean±SEM), while Part Bx prolonged survival to 80±15 min. Total Bx extended rat Xg survival to 102±11 min, with 5 of 9 Xgs functioning well at the time of termination of the study (90-120 min). Three chickens in the Total Bx group with rat cardiac Xgs that were functioning at 120 min were given a 1 ml i.v. injection of heat inactivated control chicken serum. This led to loss of Xg function within 10 min, confirming the important role for NAb in HAR in this species combination. Histologic examination of the Xgs following per-fusion revealed significant arterial endothelial injury in the control and Part Bx groups but not in the Total Bx group. Conversely, Xgs from the Total Bx group showed marked venous congestion, which was not seen in the other two groups. This study demonstrates that (1) Bx effectively eliminates NAb; (2) Xg survival is significantly prolonged in the absence of NAb in this rat-to-chicken xenogeneic combination; (3) the presence of NAb is associated with arterial endothelial injury; and (4) in the absence of NAb, marked venous congestion and injury occurs, which is possibly mediated by alternative C pathway activation or other humoral mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1139-1144
Number of pages6
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transplantation
  • Immunology


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