Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 2009; 57(4): 191-195
DOI: 10.1055/s-0029-1185395
Original Cardiovascular

© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Alpha-Gal Specific IgG Immune Response after Implantation of Bioprostheses

A. Mangold1 , T. Szerafin2 , K. Hoetzenecker1 , S. Hacker1 , M. Lichtenauer1 , T. Niederpold1 , S. Nickl1 , M. Dworschak3 , R. Blumer4 , J. Auer5 , H. J. Ankersmit1
  • 1Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
  • 2Institute of Cardiology, University of Debrecen, Debrecen, Hungary
  • 3Department of Anesthetics, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
  • 4Department of Anatomy, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
  • 5Department of Internal Medicine I, Hospital St. Josef Braunau, Braunau, Austria
Further Information

Publication History

received October 2, 2008

Publication Date:
20 May 2009 (online)


Background: We have previously shown that the α‐Gal (Galα1.3-Galβ1–4GlcNAc-R) epitope is a relevant xenoantigen present on bioprostheses utilized in cardiac surgery and elicits an α‐Gal specific IgM immune response. We sought to investigate whether that immune response continues after valve implantation. Materials and Methods: We collected plasma samples from patients who underwent bioprosthesis implantation (n = 19) or mechanical valve replacement (n = 8), respectively, prior to, at 10 days and at 3 months after cardiac surgery. ELISA was utilized to quantify α‐Gal specific IgG and IgG subclasses. 3 bioprosthetic tissue samples were obtained from patients who had to undergo re-operation within 1 week (n = 1) or at 12–15 months (n = 2) after the initial operation. We utilized confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) to detect the presence of α‐Gal epitopes (IB4) and cell nuclei (DAPI). Results: α‐Gal specific IgG was significantly increased 3 months after implantation of bioprostheses compared to preoperative values (p < 0.001) and was significantly higher than α‐Gal specific IgG levels of the control group (p < 0.05). IgG3 was the major subclass directed against α‐Gal (p < 0.05, pre- vs. postoperative values). In CLSM analysis we demonstrated that bioprostheses explanted 1 week after implantation contained IB4/DAPI positive cells within the collagen matrix. In contrast, in patients who underwent reoperation after 12 months, porcine tissue showed a complete lack of IB4/DAPI. Conclusion: Our results indicate that the implantation of bioprostheses elicits a specific humoral immune response against α‐Gal bearing cells compared to controls within 3 months after cardiac surgery. The complete absence of IB4/DAPI positive structures 12 months after implantation indicates a specific degradation of α‐Gal bearing cells through previous exposure to the human blood circuit.


Doz. Dr. Hendrik Jan Ankersmit

Medical University of Vienna
Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery

Währinger Gürtel 18–20

1090 Vienna


Phone: + 43 14 04 00 68 57