Heart Xenotransplantation: Historical Background, Experimental Progress, and Clinical Prospects

Raghav Murthy, Pietro Bajona, Jay K. Bhama, David K C Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations


If pig hearts could be transplanted successfully into patients with end-stage cardiac failure, the critical shortage of hearts from deceased human donors would be overcome. The several attempts at cardiac xenotransplantation carried out in the 20th century, usually with hearts from nonhuman primates (NHPs), are reviewed, as are the surgical techniques used in experimental heart transplantation in animals. For a number of reasons, the pig has been selected as the potential source of organs for clinical transplantation. The major pathobiological barriers that the pig presents, and progress in overcoming these barriers either by genetic engineering of the pig or by the administration of novel immunosuppressive agents, are described. Currently, non-life-supporting pig heterotopic heart transplantation in NHPs has extended to more than 2 years in 1 case, with life-supporting orthotopic heart transplantation of almost 2 months. Future approaches to resolve the remaining problems and the selection of patients for the initial clinical trials are briefly discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1605-1613
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2016



  • Abbreviations and Acronyms CRP complement regulatory protein
  • Gal galactose-α1,3-galactose
  • GTKO α1,3-galactosyltransferase gene knockout
  • NeuGc N-glycolylneuraminic acid
  • NHP nonhuman primate
  • TBM thrombomodulin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine

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