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J Heart Lung Transplant. 2013 Jan;32(1):70-7. doi: 10.1016/j.healun.2012.10.007.

Donor-specific antibodies are associated with antibody-mediated rejection, acute cellular rejection, bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome, and cystic fibrosis after lung transplantation.

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University of North Carolina, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, 130 Mason Farm Rd, Campus Box 7020, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.



Lung transplantation is limited by chronic lung allograft dysfunction. Acute cellular rejection (ACR) is a risk factor for allograft dysfunction; however, the role of antibody-mediated rejection (AMR) is not well characterized.


This was a retrospective review from 2007 to 2011 of lung transplant recipients with human leukocyte antigen (HLA) antibody testing using Luminex (Luminex Corp, Austin, TX) single-antigen beads. Statistics included Fisher's exact test for significance.


Donor-specific antibodies (DSA) developed in 13 of 44 patients. Of the 13 with DSA, 12 had cystic fibrosis compared with 18 of 31 in the non-DSA group (p = 0.035). Of those with DSAs, 23.1% occurred within the first year, and 69.2% occurred between 1 and 3 years. Twelve of 13 DSA patients had anti-HLA DQ specificity compared with 2 of 31 non-DSA patients (p = 0.0007). AMR developed in 10 of the 13 DSA patients compared with 1 of 31 non-DSA patients (p = 0.0001). The DSA group experienced 2.6 episodes/patient of cellular rejection vs 1.7 episodes/patient in the non-DSA group (p = 0.059). Bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome developed in 11 of 13 in the DSA group vs 10 of 31 in the non-DSA group (p = 0.0024). In the DSA group, 11.5% HLAs matched compared with 20.4% in the non-DSA group (p = 0.093). AMR developed in 11 of 22 patients in the non-DSA HLA group compared with 0 of 22 in the group without non-DSA HLA antibodies (p = 0.002). Survival at 1 and 3 years was 92% and 36% in the DSA group, respectively, and 97% and 65% in the non-DSA group.


DSAs and non-DSAs occur frequently after lung transplantation. DSAs are prevalent in the cystic fibrosis population and are associated with AMR, bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome, and possibly, ACR.

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