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Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2008 Mar;3 Suppl 2:S56-67. doi: 10.2215/CJN.03040707.

Late kidney allograft loss: what we know about it, and what we can do about it.

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Department of Medicine, Lawson Health Research Institute and Robarts Research Institute, London Health Sciences Centre, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada.


Despite dramatic improvements in immunosuppression, late graft loss after kidney transplantation remains a common and difficult problem. Histologic evaluation may reveal changes related to BK polyomavirus infection, hypertension, or calcineurin inhibitor toxicity, which can help to guide therapy. The designation chronic allograft nephropathy should thus be reserved for biopsies with tubular atrophy and interstitial fibrosis without an apparent cause. Although the cause clearly includes both antigen-dependent and antigen-independent events, the approach remains largely to exclude immune mechanisms. Although this review discusses the potential contribution of antibody to chronic injury, it focuses on the basic elements of kidney injury, the role of parenchymal cells in promoting injury, and the proliferative and inflammatory responses that accompanying injury. Strategies to manage these recipients include close attention to accompanying hypertension, diabetes, and hyperlipidemia, as well as consideration for altering immunosuppression; however, therapies that limit epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition or directly block fibrosis pathways may reduce chronic allograft fibrosis and may prove to be useful. Understanding the basic pathogenesis sufficiently to allow early intervention may finally benefit patients who are at high risk for tubular atrophy and interstitial fibrosis and promote their long-term graft function.

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