Introduction. Attempts to achieve immunological tolerance to porcine tissues in nonhuman primates through establishment of mixed hematopoietic chimerism are hindered by the rapid clearance of mobilized porcine leukocytes, containing progenitor cells (pPBPCs), from the circulation. Eighteen hours after infusing 1-2 ×1010 pPBPC/kg into baboons that had been depleted of circulating anti-αGal and complement, these cells are almost undetectable by flow cytometry. The aim of the present study was to identify mechanisms that contribute to rapid clearance of pPBPCs in the baboon. This was achieved by depleting, or blocking the Fc-receptors of, cells of the phagocytic reticuloendothelial system (RES) using medronate liposomes (MLs) or intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg), respectively. Methods. Baboons (preliminary studies, n=4) were used in a dose-finding and toxicity study to assess the effect of MLs on macrophage depletion in vivo. In another study, baboons (n=9) received a nonmyeloablative conditioning regimen (NMCR) aimed at inducing immunological tolerance, including splenectomy, whole body irradiation (300 cGy) or cyclophosphamide (80 mg/kg), thymic irradiation (700 cGy), T-cell depletion, complement depletion with cobra venom factor, mycophenolate mofetil, anti-CD154 monoclonal antibody, and multiple extracorporeal immunoadsorptions of anti-αGal antibodies. The baboons were divided into three groups: Group 1 (n=5) NMCR+pPBPC transplantation; Group 2 (n=2) NMCR+ML+pPBPC transplantation; and Group 3 (n=2) NMCR+IVIg+pPBPC transplantation. Detection of pig cells in the blood was assessed by fluorescence-activated cell sorter and polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Results. Preliminary studies: ML effectively depleted macrophages from the circulation in a dosedependent manner. Group 1: On average, 14% pig cells were detected 2 hr postinfusion of 1 × 1010 pPBPC/kg. After 18 hr, there were generally less than 1.5% pig cells detectable. Group 2: Substantially higher levels of pig cell chimerism (55-78%) were detected 2 hr postinfusion, even when a smaller number (0.5-1 × 1010/kg) of pPBPCs had been infused, and these levels were better sustained 18 hr later (10-52%). Group 3: In one baboon, 4.4% pig cells were detected 2 hr after infusion of 1 × 1010 pPBPC/kg. After 18 hr, however, 7.4% pig cells were detected. A second baboon died 2 hr after infusion of 4 × 1010 pPBPC/kg, with a total white blood cell count of 90,000, of which 70% were pig cells. No differences in microchimerism could be detected between the groups as determined by PCR. Conclusions. This is the first study to report an efficient decrease of phagocytic function by depletion of macrophages with MLs in a large-animal model. Depletion of macrophages with MLs led to initial higher chimerism and prolonged the survival of circulating pig cells in baboons. Blockade of macrophage function with IVIg had a more modest effect. Cells of the RES, therefore, play a major role in clearing pPBPCs from the circulation in baboons. Depletion or blockade of the RES may contribute to achieving mixed hematopoietic chimerism and induction of tolerance to a discordant xenograft.
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