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Hum Immunol. 2009 Aug;70(8):580-3. doi: 10.1016/j.humimm.2009.04.011. Epub 2009 Apr 16.

Low levels of human leukocyte antigen donor-specific antibodies detected by solid phase assay before transplantation are frequently clinically irrelevant.

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Service of Immunology and Allergy, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, Lausanne, Switzerland.


Since new technologies based on solid phase assays (SPA) have been routinely incorporated in the transplant immunology laboratory, the presence of pretransplantation donor-specific antibodies (DSA) against human leukocyte antigen (HLA) molecules has generally been considered as a risk factor for acute rejection (AR) and, in particular, for acute humoral rejection (AHR). We retrospectively studied 113 kidney transplant recipients who had negative prospective T-cell and B-cell complement-dependent cytotoxicity (CDC) crossmatches at the time of transplant. Pretransplantation sera were screened for the presence of circulating anti-HLA antibody and DSA by using highly sensitive and HLA-specific Luminex assay, and the results were correlated with AR and AHR posttransplantation. We found that approximately half of our patient population (55/113, 48.7%) had circulating anti-HLA antibody pretransplantation. Of 113 patients, 11 (9.7%) had HLA-DSA. Of 11 rejection episodes post-transplant, only two patients had pretransplantation DSA, of whom one had a severe AHR (C4d positive). One-year allograft survival was similar between the pretransplantation DSA-positive and -negative groups. Number, class, and intensity of pretransplantation DSA, as well as presensitizing events, could not predict AR. We conclude that, based on the presence of pretransplantation DSA, post-transplantation acute rejections episodes could not have been predicted. The only AHR episode occurred in a recipient with pretransplantation DSA. More work should be performed to better delineate the precise clinical significance of detecting low titers of DSA before transplantation.

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