Research Article

Search for Cross-Species Transmission of Porcine Endogenous Retrovirus in Patients Treated with Living Pig Tissue

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Science  20 Aug 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5431, pp. 1236-1241
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5431.1236

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Pig organs may offer a solution to the shortage of human donor organs for transplantation, but concerns remain about possible cross-species transmission of porcine endogenous retrovirus (PERV). Samples were collected from 160 patients who had been treated with various living pig tissues up to 12 years earlier. Reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and protein immunoblot analyses were performed on serum from all 160 patients. No viremia was detected in any patient. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 159 of the patients were analyzed by PCR using PERV-specific primers. No PERV infection was detected in any of the patients from whom sufficient DNA was extracted to allow complete PCR analysis (97 percent of the patients). Persistent microchimerism (presence of donor cells in the recipient) was observed in 23 patients for up to 8.5 years.

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