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Am J Transplant. 2012 Jun;12(6):1504-10. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-6143.2012.03995.x. Epub 2012 Mar 15.

Prevalence, course and impact of HLA donor-specific antibodies in liver transplantation in the first year.

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Division of Transplant Surgery, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA.


The presence of preformed donor-specific HLA antibodies (DSA) in liver transplant recipients is increasingly recognized; however, the prevalence of DSA and their impact on early allograft function remains unknown. We prospectively followed serum DSA levels of 90 consecutive liver transplant recipients from baseline to 4 months. Twenty recipients (22.2%) had preformed DSA. No antibody-targeting treatments were undertaken. Seven days after transplantation, DSA levels decreased markedly in all but three patients. Day 7 protocol biopsies showed diffuse C4d deposition along the portal stroma, central vein, subendothelial and stromal space in the patients with persistent high DSA levels. The rate of acute cellular rejection was not significantly different in patients with DSA. The transaminase and bilirubin levels remained comparable during the first year despite the presence of DSA. The three patients with persistently high DSA levels continue to have normal allograft function. We conclude that in most cases, DSA disappear after liver transplant, however in rare instances where they persist, there is evidence of complement activation in the liver allograft, without significant clinical impact in the first year.

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