, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 273-297

Recent advances in the immunology of xenotransplantation

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The transplantation of tissue and organs between individuals of different species, that is xenotransplantation, engenders a variety of severe immune responses. Xenogeneic immune responses mediated by naturally occurring antibodies and complement lead to hyperacute and acute vascular rejection of vascularized organ grafts and may also cause vascular rejection of cell and tissue grafts. Under some circumstances, however, a vascularized organ graft may evade humoral rejection despite the presence of antidonor antibodies in the circulation of the recipient; this condition is called accommodation. Xenogeneic immune responses mediated by T-lymphocytes and natural killer cells may cause acute cellular rejection. The extent to which cellular rejection of xenografts resembles cellular rejection of allografts remains to be determined. New insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying the immune responses to xenotransplantation have shed new light on the pathogenesis of immunological disease and have allowed the development of specific immunomodulatory strategies that may facilitate clinical application of xenotransplantation.