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Transplantation. 2012 Oct 15;94(7):738-43. doi: 10.1097/TP.0b013e3182612921.

Independent of nephrectomy, weaning immunosuppression leads to late sensitization after kidney transplant failure.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University Hospitals Case Medical Center, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA.



Patients returning to dialysis therapy after renal transplant failure have a high rate of human leukocyte antigen antibody sensitization, and sensitization has been linked to allograft nephrectomy. We hypothesized that nephrectomy for cause is a consequence of weaning immunosuppression and that weaning leads to sensitization even in the absence of nephrectomy.


We examined outcomes in 300 consecutive patients with kidney allograft failure and survival of more than 30 days after failure. We analyzed a subset of 119 patients with a low panel reactive antibody (PRA) before transplantation and follow-up PRA testing at 6 to 24 months after failure (late PRA).


By late PRA testing, 56% of patients were highly sensitized (class I or II PRA ≥80%). On multivariate analysis controlling for human leukocyte antigen matching, allograft nephrectomy, and other variables, weaning of immunosuppression predicted high sensitization (odds ratio, 14.34; P=0.004). In a subset of patients, the percentage of those who were highly sensitized increased from 21% at the time of failure on immunosuppressive therapy to 68% by late PRA after weaning (P<0.001). Conversely, patients who maintained immunosuppression showed minimal sensitization after failure. Transplant nephrectomy was required in 41% of patients who weaned immunosuppression versus 0% of the 24 patients who maintained immunosuppression with calcineurin inhibitor therapy after failure (P<0.001).


Weaning immunosuppression was a triggering event leading to late rejection and allograft nephrectomy and was an independent predictor of alloantibody sensitization after kidney allograft failure.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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