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J Heart Lung Transplant. 2010 Jan;29(1):109-16. doi: 10.1016/j.healun.2009.08.028.

Ventricular assist device-associated anti-human leukocyte antigen antibody sensitization in pediatric patients bridged to heart transplantation.

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Division of Cardiology, Department of Pediatrics, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-4399, USA.



Ventricular assist devices (VAD) are associated with the formation of antibodies to anti-human leukocyte antigens (HLA) or sensitization. The incidence and effects of VAD-associated anti-HLA sensitization have not been well studied in the pediatric population.


A retrospective review of all patients undergoing VAD implant at our institution from 1998 to 2008 was performed. Panel reactive antibody (PRA) results before VAD implant, after VAD implant, and after orthotopic heart transplantation (OHT) were recorded. Patients who became sensitized (PRA for class I and/or II immunoglobulin G antibodies >or= 10%) on VAD support were compared with non-sensitized patients with regard to demographics, diagnosis, device type, and blood product exposure on VAD support. Outcomes after OHT were also compared between groups.


VAD support was initiated in 20 patients (median age, 14.4 years), with 75% survival to OHT or recovery. PRA data before and after VAD implant were available for 17 patients. VAD-associated sensitization developed in 35% of recipients. There were no differences between those sensitized in association with VAD support and non-sensitized patients with regard to age, gender, diagnosis, device type, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation use, or blood product exposure on VAD support. Black race predicted sensitization on VAD (p = 0.02). There were no differences in survival or rejection between groups.


VAD therapy was associated with the development of anti-HLA sensitization in 35% of recipients. Black race predicted sensitization, but there were no differences in overall survival or outcomes after OHT.

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