Background. Acute vascular xenograft rejection (AVXR), also termed delayed xenograft rejection (DXR), occurs when hyperacute rejection (HAR) is prevented by strategies directed at xenoreactive natural antibodies and/or complement activation. We have hypothesized that AVXR/DXR is initiated in part by early components of the complement cascade, notably C1q. We have developed synthetic peptides (termed CBP2 and WY) that interfere with the interaction between C1q and antibody. Methods. CBP2 and the WY-conjugates were used as inhibitors of immunoglobulin aggregate binding to solid phase C1q. Inhibition of complement activation by the peptides of the classical system was determined using lysis assays with sensitized sheep red blood cells or porcine aortic endothelial cells as targets and of the alternate complement pathway using guinea pig red blood cells as targets. Two transplant models were used to study the effects of administering peptides to recipients: rat heart transplant to presensitized mouse, and guinea heart transplant to PVG C6-deficient rats. Results. CBP2 and WY-conjugates inhibited immunoglobulin aggregate binding to C1q. The peptides also inhibited human complement-mediated lysis of sensitized sheep red blood cells and porcine aortic endothelial cells in a dose-dependent manner and the WY-conjugates prevented activation of the alternate complement pathway as shown by inhibition of guinea pig red blood cells lysis with human serum. In addition, the use of the peptides and conjugates resulted in significant prolongation of xenograft survival. Conclusions. The CBP2 and WY peptides exhibit the functional activity of inhibition of complement activation. These peptides also prolong xenograft survival and thus provide reagents for the study of the importance of C1q and other complement components in transplant rejection mechanisms.
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