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Characterization of immunogenic Neu5Gc in bioprosthetic heart valves

Journal article
Authors E. M. Reuven
S. Leviatan Ben-Arye
T. Marshanski
Michael Breimer
H. Yu
I. Fellah-Hebia
J. C. Roussel
C. Costa
M. Galiñanes
R. Mañez
T. Le Tourneau
J. P. Soulillou
E. Cozzi
X. Chen
V. Padler-Karavani
Published in Xenotransplantation
Volume 23
Issue 5
Pages 381-392
ISSN 0908-665X
Publication year 2016
Published at Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Surgery
Pages 381-392
Language en
Keywords immunology, Neu5Gc, transplantation, valvular heart disease, xeno-antigens
Subject categories Immunology in the medical area, Microbiology in the medical area


Background: The two common sialic acids (Sias) in mammals are N-acetylneuraminic acid (Neu5Ac) and its hydroxylated form N-glycolylneuraminic acid (Neu5Gc). Unlike most mammals, humans cannot synthesize Neu5Gc that is considered foreign and recognized by circulating antibodies. Thus, Neu5Gc is a potential xenogenic carbohydrate antigen in bioprosthetic heart valves (BHV) that tend to deteriorate in time within human patients. Methods: We investigated Neu5Gc expression in non-engineered animal-derived cardiac tissues and in clinically used commercial BHV, and evaluated Neu5Gc immunogenicity on BHV through recognition by human anti-Neu5Gc IgG. Results: Neu5Gc was detected by immunohistochemistry in porcine aortic valves and in porcine and bovine pericardium. Qualitative analysis of Sia linkages revealed Siaα2-3>Siaα2-6 on porcine/bovine pericardium while the opposite in porcine aortic/pulmonary valve cusps. Similarly, six commercial BHV containing either porcine aortic valve or porcine/bovine/equine pericardium revealed Siaα2-3>Siaα2-6 expression. Quantitative analysis of Sia by HPLC showed porcine/bovine pericardium express 4-fold higher Neu5Gc levels compared to the porcine aortic/pulmonary valves, with Neu5Ac at 6-fold over Neu5Gc. Likewise, Neu5Gc was expressed on commercial BHV (186.3±16.9 pmol Sia/μg protein), with Neu5Ac at 8-fold over Neu5Gc. Affinity-purified human anti-Neu5Gc IgG showing high specificity toward Neu5Gc-glycans (with no binding to Neu5Ac-glycans) on a glycan microarray, strongly bound to all tested commercial BHV, demonstrating Neu5Gc immune recognition in cardiac xenografts. Conclusions: We conclusively demonstrated Neu5Gc expression in native cardiac tissues, as well as in six commercial BHV. These Neu5Gc xeno-antigens were recognized by human anti-Neu5Gc IgG, supporting their immunogenicity. Altogether, these findings suggest BHV-Neu5Gc/anti-Neu5Gc may play a role in valve deterioration warranting further investigation. © 2016 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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