Indexed on: 14 Feb '15Published on: 14 Feb '15Published in: Xenotransplantation
Xenotransplantation using pig cells, tissues and organs may be associated with the transmission of porcine microorganisms to the human recipient. Some of these microorganisms may induce a zoonosis, that is an infectious disease induced by microorganisms transmitted from another species. With exception of the porcine endogenous retroviruses (PERVs), which are integrated in the genome of all pigs, the transmission of all other microorganisms can be prevented by specified or designated pathogen-free (spf or dpf, respectively) production of the animals. However, it is becoming clear in the last years that the hepatitis E virus (HEV) is one of the viruses which are difficult to eliminate. It is important to note that there are differences between HEV of genotypes (gt) 1 and gt2 on one hand and HEV of gt3 and gt4 on the other. HEV gt1 and gt2 are human viruses, and they induce hepatitis and in the worst case fatal infections in pregnant women. In contrast, HEV gt3 and gt4 are viruses of pigs, and they may infect humans, induce commonly only mild diseases, if any, and are harmless for pregnant women. The goal of this review was to evaluate the risk posed by HEV gt3 and gt4 for xenotransplantation and to indicate ways of their elimination from pigs in order to prevent transmission to the human recipient.