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Possible risks posed by single-stranded DNA viruses of pigs associated with xenotransplantation

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Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12453
Issue number4
Early online date18 Aug 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Aug 2018


Routine large‐scale xenotransplantation from pigs to humans is getting closer to clinical reality owing to several state‐of‐the‐art technologies, especially the ability to rapidly engineer genetically defined pigs. However, using pig organs in humans poses risks including unwanted cross‐species transfer of viruses and adaption of these pig viruses to the human organ recipient. Recent developments in the field of virology, including the advent of metagenomic techniques to characterize entire viromes, have led to the identification of a plethora of viruses in many niches. Single‐stranded DNA (ssDNA) viruses are the largest group prevalent in virome studies in mammals. Specifically, the ssDNA viral genomes are characterized by a high rate of nucleotide substitution, which confers a proclivity to adapt to new hosts and cross‐species barriers. Pig‐associated ssDNA viruses include torque teno sus viruses (TTSuV) in the Anelloviridae family, porcine parvoviruses (PPV), and porcine bocaviruses (PBoV) both in the family of Parvoviridae, and porcine circoviruses (PCV) in the Circoviridae family, some of which have been confirmed to be pathogenic to pigs. The risks of these viruses for the human recipient during xenotransplantation procedures are relatively unknown. Based on the scant knowledge available on the prevalence, predilection, and pathogenicity of pig‐associated ssDNA viruses, careful screening and monitoring are required. In the case of positive identification, risk assessments and strategies to eliminate these viruses in xenotransplantation pig stock may be needed.

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