Injection of allogeneic bone marrow cells into the portal vein of swine in utero

J. Peter Rubin, Sheldon R. Cober, Peter E.M. Butler, Mark A. Randolph, G. Scott Gazelle, Francisco L. Ierino, David H. Sachs, W. P.Andrew Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The ability to safely manipulate the immune system of the developing fetus carries the hope of effective treatment strategies for certain congenital disorders that can be diagnosed during gestation. One possible intervention is the induction of specific transplantation tolerance to an adult donor who could provide tissue after birth without the need for immunosuppression. Although the introduction of allogeneic stem cells to a developing immune system has been shown to result in hematopoietic chimerism, donor-specific transplantation tolerance has not been demonstrated in a large animal model. In previous reports of in utero stem-cell transplantation, the cells were injected into the fetus by an intraperitoneal route. We sought to improve upon this technique of cell transplantation by developing a method for the safe delivery of allogeneic stem cells directly into the hepatic circulation of fetal swine. In the second phase of our study, we determined if adult allogeneic bone marrow cells delivered to the fetus by this intravascular route could result in result in hematopoietic chimerism and donor-specific transplantation tolerance. A method of successful intravascular injection was designed in which a laparotomy was performed on a sow at midgestation (50-55 days) to administer 1 cc of inoculum into the portal vein of each fetus using transuterine ultrasound guidance and a 25-gauge spinal needle. In one sow, 10 piglets were injected with saline to test safety, and 8 piglets were born. For transplantation of stem cells to the fetuses, donor bone marrow was harvested from a genetically defined miniature swine. In one sow the marrow was injected without T-cell depletion resulting in abortion. In the third sow, the marrow was depleted of T-cells to less than 0.01% using magnetic beads conjugated to anti-CD3 monoclonal antibodies. No chimerism was detected in these offspring. Only in the fourth sow where the T-cell depletion was reduced to about 1% of the cells in the inoculum did one animal demonstrate chimerism. This piglet showed reproducible blood chimerism (0.95% donor cells) detected by flow cytometry measurement of monoclonal antibodies to the donor MHC. In addition, this animal demonstrated hyporesponsiveness to donor lymphocytes in an MLR assay while reacting strongly to third-party stimulator cells. A split-thickness skin graft from the donor was accepted, and a third-party graft was rapidly rejected.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)188-194
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Bone marrow
  • Chimerism
  • Fetus
  • Portal vein
  • Tolerance
  • Ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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