Transplantation of discordant xenograft tissues usually results in antibody-mediated hyperacute rejection response. It has been speculated that because cartilage has a limited vascular, neural, and lymphatic supply, it might be immunologically privileged and may not undergo hyperacute or chronic rejection. Moreover, porcine and bovine cartilage were found to express very low amounts of α-galactosyl epitopes (Galα1-3Galβ1-4GlcNac-R). To evaluate animal cartilage for possible human transplantation, xenograft meniscal cartilage was transplanted from pigs and cows into the suprapatellar pouches of six cynomolgus monkeys (group 1). In a second group of six monkeys (group 2), porcine meniscal cartilage and porcine articular cartilage plugs were evaluated. During the 2-month evaluation period in group 1, all monkeys displayed an extensive humoral response to the xenograft, as indicated by the increase in production of antibodies against bovine and porcine cartilage. Upon explant, all meniscal cartilage samples in this group demonstrated histological evidence of chronic rejection, including fibroplasia, encapsulation, mononuclear infiltrates, foreign body giant cells, and eosinophilic infiltrates. There was no difference between the response seen in untreated tissues and that seen in tissues treated with UV irradiation or ozone oxidation. In group 2, the menisci explanted after 1 month displayed extensive infiltration of eosinophils alone or eosinophils mixed with mononuclear cells. The mononuclear infiltrates consisted primarily of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells and of macrophages. The articular cartilage plugs demonstrated only a small area of fibrous encapsulation and leukocyte infiltration at the periphery. This study suggests that xenograft cartilage tissue does not appear to be immunoprivileged and is unsuitable for human implantation due to a chronic rejection mechanism, which is evident already within 1 month after transplantation. In addition, this study may serve as a general model for the primate immune response against xenografts in the absence of hyperacute rejection.
The Stone Clinic, San Francisco, California; Sierra Biomedical Inc., Sparks, Nevada; and Departments of Dermatology, and Microbiology and Immunology, MCP-Hahnemann School of Medicine, Allegheny University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1 The Stone Clinic.
2 Address correspondence to: Kevin R. Stone, MD, The Stone Clinic, 3727 Buchanan Street, San Francisco, CA 94123.
3 Department of Dermatology, MCP-Hahnemann School of Medicine.
4 Sierra Biomedical Incorporated.
5 Department of Microbiology and Immunology, MCP-Hahnemann School of Medicine.
Received 18 July 1996.
Accepted 10 October 1996.