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Transplantation. 2001 Apr 27;71(8):1098-102.

Outcome of kidney transplants in patients known to be flow cytometry crossmatch positive.

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Department of Pathology, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville 32610, USA.



The clinical significance of the flow cytometry crossmatch has been addressed in several retrospective studies, but the results have been controversial. There are no prospective studies in which patients known to be antibody positive underwent transplantation.


The flow cytometry crossmatch was performed prospectively in 1130 renal transplant recipients. A decision to perform transplantation was based on whether the positive results were on T or B cells, in the current or peak specimen, and taking into account the presence or absence of other immunological risk factors. One hundred antibody-positive patients received a transplant. Graft survival and rejection episodes were analyzed in this group and compared with 100 crossmatch-negative patients matched for age, sex, race, and time of transplantation.


The incidence of rejection at 1 month was higher in antibody-positive patients (26%) than in antibody-negative patients (12%, P<0.01). Early rejection seemed to be more frequent in antibody-positive patients regardless of whether the antibodies were current or historic, or against T or B cells. There were more steroid-resistant rejections in antibody-positive than in antibody-negative patients. However, biopsy specimens showed that vascular lesions that can be associated with humoral rejection were not more frequent in the antibody-positive patients than in the controls. There were no differences in graft survival between the two groups.


Low-level preformed alloantibodies detected by flow cytometry represent a risk of rejection even for patients purposely selected for having no additional immunological risk factors. The risk seems to be due to donor-specific memory rather than to a direct effect of the antibodies. The results indicate that flow cytometry provides useful information to assess donor-recipient compatibility.

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