Pig liver xenotransplantation as a bridge to allotransplantation: Which patients might benefit?

Burcin Ekser, Bruno Gridelli, A. Joseph Tector, David K C Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Acute liver failure is a potentially devastating clinical syndrome that, without liver transplantation (Tx), is associated with high mortality. Rapid deterioration in clinical status and a shortage of deceased human organs prohibits liver Tx in many patients. Bridging to liver Tx has been attempted by various approaches, for example, bioartificial liver support, extracorporeal pig liver perfusion, and hepatocyte Tx, but none of these approaches has convincingly improved patient survival. The orthotopic Tx of a genetically engineered pig liver could theoretically provide successful bridging. Immediate availability, perfect metabolic condition, adequate size-match and hepatocyte mass, and freedom from potentially pathogenic microorganisms could be assured. The advantages and disadvantages of bridging by pig liver Tx compared with other approaches are discussed. The selection of patients for an initial clinical trial of pig liver Tx would be similar to that of various prior trials in patients experiencing rapid and severe deterioration in liver function. The ability to give truly informed consent for a pig bridging procedure at the time of listing for liver Tx renders the patient with acute-on-chronic liver failure or primary allograft failure is a preferable candidate for this procedure than a patient who is admitted urgently with acute (fulminant) liver failure in whom consent may not be possible. Although several barriers to successful pig organ xenoTx remain, for example, coagulation dysfunction between pig and primate, if these can be resolved by further genetic engineering of the organ-source pigs, a pig liver may prove life saving to patients dying rapidly of liver failure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1041-1049
Number of pages9
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2009


  • Acute liver failure
  • Allotransplantation
  • Bioartificial liver
  • Liver
  • Patient selection
  • Pig
  • Xenotransplantation.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transplantation


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