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Genetic alterations in pig tissue may allow for human transplantation

Date:
June 30, 2011
Source:
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Summary:
A sizzling genetic discovery may one day allow pig tissue to be transplanted successfully into humans. Scientists have taken a step forward toward filling the shortage of vital organs for human transplantation. Research has shown that altering or overexpressing human programmed death ligand-1 molecule in endothelial cells of pig arteries reduces conditions that cause rejection. This suggests humans could receive altered porcine organs with fewer complications.

A sizzling genetic discovery by Chinese scientists may one day allow pig tissue to be transplanted successfully into humans. Their research presented in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology represents a major step forward toward filling the shortage of vital organs for human transplantation. At the core of their work, they showed that altering or overexpressing the human programmed death ligand-1 (PD-L1) molecule in the endothelial cells of pig arteries reduces the conditions that lead to rejection. This strongly suggests that humans could receive altered porcine organs with fewer complications.

"Genetically engineered pigs may someday overcome the severe donor organ shortage, and save human lives," said Qing Ding, Ph.D., co-study author from the Shanghai Institute of Immunology at the Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine in Shanghai, China.

To make the discovery, scientists conducted experiments using two groups of pig vascular endothelial cells. The first group was genetically engineered to express human PD-L1, while the second group was normal. When both sets of cells were exposed to human lymphocytes, lower rejection response occurred in the group with the altered gene, while higher rejection responses were seen in the normal cells. Study results suggest that human PD-L1 could be used as a novel therapeutic agent to enhance tolerance of xenotransplants and also supports the possibility of using human PD-L1 transgenic pigs as xenotransplant donors. Using this type of genetic engineering technique could potentially overcome current challenges related to successful pig/human transplant rejection.

"Xenotransplantation has the potential to fill a huge gap between the number of available human donor tissue and number of needy recipients," said John Wherry, Ph.D., Deputy Editor of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, "but our understanding of the pathways that might enhance the acceptance and physiological function of organs from animals such as pigs remains incomplete. The study by Dr. Ding and his colleagues is a very substantial step forward in defining a key immunoregulatory pathway that could be targeted in this setting."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Q. Ding, L. Lu, X. Zhou, Y. Zhou, K.-Y. Chou. Human PD-L1-overexpressing porcine vascular endothelial cells induce functionally suppressive human CD4 CD25hiFoxp3 Treg cells. Journal of Leukocyte Biology, 2011; DOI: 10.1189/jlb.1210691

Cite This Page:

Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. "Genetic alterations in pig tissue may allow for human transplantation." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110630112855.htm>.
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. (2011, June 30). Genetic alterations in pig tissue may allow for human transplantation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110630112855.htm
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. "Genetic alterations in pig tissue may allow for human transplantation." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110630112855.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

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