Amelia Bartholomew, University of Illinois, Chicago, Illinois, USA

Hugh Auchincloss, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Copyright © 1998 Elsevier Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

Xenotransplantation is the transplantation of tissues between members of different species. The term 'heterotransplantation' appeared in earlier literature before the words autologous, syngeneic, allogeneic and xenogeneic were commonly accepted to describe the genetic differences between donors and recipients. Xenogeneic transplantation can involve 'concordant' or 'discordant' donors, roughly according to the phylogenetic distance between the species involved. Discordant species combinations are those in which the recipient has natural preformed antibodies against donor endothelial antigens which cause hyperacute rejection of most vascularized organ transplants.

Xenogeneic transplantation elicits an immune response which is fundamentally similar to that which occurs in allotransplantation. Unique features of xenotransplantation stem partly from the greater antigenic disparities involved and partly from the physiologic incompatibilities which occur when mixing tissues from different species.

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