Vascularized thymic lobe transplantation in a pig-to-baboon model: A novel strategy for xenogeneic tolerance induction and T-cell reconstitution

Shin Yamamoto, John M. Lavelle, Parsia A. Vagefi, Hitoshi Arakawa, Emma Samelson-Jones, Shannon Moran, Katsuhito Teranishi, Chisako Kamano, Jay Fishman, Michel Awwad, David M. Neville, Akira Shimizu, Megan Sykes, David H. Sachs, Kazuhiko Yamada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Background. This laboratory has previously demonstrated the induction of allogeneic tolerance by vascularized thymic lobe (VTL) transplantation in miniature swine. We report here our initial attempt to induce tolerance by VTL transplantation in the clinically relevant, discordant, pig-to-baboon model of xenotransplantation. Methods. Six baboons received xenografts of hDAF VTLs. Four of these baboons also received omental thymic tissue implants. All recipients were treated with an immunosuppressive conditioning regimen that included thymectomy, splenectomy, extracorporeal immunoadsorption of anti-alpha Gal antibodies, and T-cell depletion. Two control baboons received sham operations, of which one also received 5 × 10 8 hDAF porcine thymocytes/kg intravenously. Results. Transplanted VTL grafts supported early thymopoiesis of recipient-type immature thymocytes, and facilitated engraftment of nonvascularized thymic omental implants. Recipients of the VTL grafts demonstrated donor-specific unresponsiveness in MLR assays, development of peripheral CD45RAhigh/CD4 double positive (DP) cells, and positive cytokeratin staining of thymic stroma in the grafts for 2 months following xenotransplantation. The control baboons did not show these markers of thymic reconstitution. The eventual return of Gal natural antibodies led to the destruction of graft epithelial cells and the rejection of all VTL grafts by 3 months posttransplantation. Conclusions. VTL transplantation from hDAF swine to baboons induced early thymopoiesis in the recipients and donor-specific cellular unresponsiveness in vitro. When coupled with additional strategies aimed at silencing humoral rejection, VTL transplantation may significantly prolong xenograft survival and result in long-term tolerance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1783-1790
Number of pages8
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Pig-to-baboon
  • Thymus transplantation
  • Tolerance
  • Xenotransplantation
  • hDAF pig

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transplantation


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