The current practice of evaluating heterotopic heart xenografts by palpation allows only detection of severe graft dysfunction, which indicates terminal graft failure. Therefore, we evaluated whether echocardiography is a better method of detecting early graft dysfunction as a marker of rejection in abdominal pig heart xenografts in cynomolgus monkeys.Six cynomolgus monkeys received heterotopic heart transplants from pig donors transgenic for human decay-accelerating factor (hDAF). Induction therapy consisted of either cyclophosphamide or rabbit anti-thymocyte globulin. Maintenance therapy consisted of cyclosporine or tacrolimus, steroids, and sodium mycophenolate or mycophenolate mofetil, GAS914 (alphaGal oligosaccharide containing glycoconjugate), and for some animals TP10 (soluble complement receptor type 1). Echocardiography was performed immediately after transplantation and 3 times a week after surgery. We scored contractility and measured left ventricular wall thickness. Impaired contractility or increased wall thickness were considered graft dysfunction and were treated with pulse steroids. Palpation score was recorded daily. We also obtained myocardial biopsy specimens.Palpation score remained at 4 out of 4 in all animals until 2 to 5 days before final graft failure, whereas echocardiography detected several episodes of impaired graft function, either decreased left ventricular contractility or increased left ventricular wall thickness before graft failure. Treatment with pulse steroids improved graft function only during early episodes of graft impairment. Final graft failure was steroid resistant and caused by severe vascular rejection.Echocardiography is a better method of assessing graft dysfunction than is palpation. Therefore, echocardiography may detect early rejection episodes of heterotopic heart xenografts in non-human primates.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.healun.2003.09.041
View details for Web of Science ID 000226922800017
View details for PubMedID 15701440