Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Transplant Rev (Orlando). 2009 Oct;23(4):235-47. doi: 10.1016/j.trre.2009.07.001.

Management of allosensitized cardiac transplant candidates.

Author information

Department of Medicine, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, WI 53792, USA.


Cardiac transplantation remains the best treatment in patients with advanced heart failure with a high risk of death. However, an inadequate supply of donor hearts decreases the likelihood of transplantation for many patients. Ventricular assist devices (VADs) are being increasingly used as a bridge to transplantation in patients who may not survive long enough to receive a heart. This expansion in VAD use has been associated with increasing rates of allosensitization in cardiac transplant candidates. Anti-HLA antibodies can be detected before transplantation using different techniques. Complement-dependent lymphocytotoxicity assays are widely used for measurement of panel-reactive antibody (PRA) and for crossmatch purposes. Newer assays using solid-phase flow techniques feature improved specificity and offer detailed information concerning antibody specificities, which may lead to improvements in donor-recipient matching. Allosensitization prolongs the wait time for transplantation and increases the risk of post-transplantation complications and death; therefore, decreasing anti-HLA antibodies in sensitized transplant candidates is of vital importance. Plasmapheresis, intravenous immunoglobulin, and rituximab have been used to decrease the PRA before transplantation, with varying degrees of success. The most significant post-transplantation complications seen in allosensitized recipients are antibody-mediated rejection (AMR) and cardiac allograft vasculopathy (CAV). Often, AMR manifests with severe allograft dysfunction and hemodynamic compromise. The underlying pathophysiology is not fully understood but appears to involve complement-mediated activation of endothelial cells resulting in ischemic injury. The treatment of AMR in cardiac recipients is largely empirical and includes high-dose corticosteroids, plasmapheresis, intravenous immunoglobulin, and rituximab. Diffuse concentric stenosis of allograft coronary arteries due to intimal expansion is a characteristic of CAV. Its pathophysiology is unclear but may involve chronic complement-mediated endothelial injury. Sirolimus and everolimus can delay the progression of CAV. In some nonsensitized cardiac transplant recipients, the de novo formation of anti-HLA antibodies after transplantation may increase the likelihood of adverse clinical outcomes. Serial post-transplantation PRAs may be advisable in patients at high risk of de novo allosensitization.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center