Background: Perioperative cardiac xenograft dysfunction (PCXD) was described by McGregor and colleagues as a major barrier to the translation of heterotopic cardiac xenotransplantation into the orthotopic position. It is characterized by graft dysfunction in the absence of rejection within 24 to 48 hours of transplantation. We describe our experience with PCXD at a single program. Methods: Orthotopic transplantation of genetically engineered pig hearts was performed in 6 healthy baboons. The immunosuppression regimen included induction by anti-CD20 monoclonal antibodies (mAb), thymoglobulin, cobra venom factor, and anti-CD40 mAb, and maintenance with anti-CD40 mAb, mycophenolate mofetil, and tapering doses of steroids. Telemetry was used to assess graft function. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation was used to support 1 recipient. A full human clinical transplantation team was involved in these experiments and the procedure was performed by skilled transplantation surgeons. Results: A maximal survival of 40 hours was achieved in these experiments. The surgical procedures were uneventful, and all hearts were weaned from cardiopulmonary bypass without issue. Support with inotropes and vasopressors was generally required after separation from cardiopulmonary bypass. The cardiac xenografts performed well immediately, but within the first several hours they required increasing support and ultimately resulted in arrest despite maximal interventions. All hearts were explanted immediately; histology showed no signs of rejection. Conclusions: Despite excellent surgical technique, uneventful weaning from cardiopulmonary bypass, and adequate initial function, orthotopic cardiac xenografts slowly fail within 24 to 48 hours without evidence of rejection. Modification of preservation techniques and minimizing donor organ ischemic time may be able to ameliorate PCXD.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine