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Transplant Rev (Orlando). 2013 Oct;27(4):108-11. doi: 10.1016/j.trre.2013.07.001. Epub 2013 Aug 17.

Interpretation of HLA single antigen bead assays.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53792-0428. Electronic address:


The introduction of single antigen bead (SAB) assays for detection and quantitation of HLA antibodies has improved our ability to identify and manage allosensitized transplant candidates and recipients and to improve organ allocation, and was critical to the creation of national paired kidney exchanges. The principal limitations of the technology have been detailed in the literature and include artifacts resulting in non-specific background, variability, lack of standardization, and interpretive challenges. Accurate interpretation of SAB assays requires consideration of a number of factors, including identification of epitope reactivity patterns, mean fluorescence intensity (MFI) values, patient history, and appreciation of individual bead and assay nuances. The MFI value provides an estimate of relative HLA antibody levels although limited by saturation and epitope distribution effects. A better understanding of SAB assays and MFI values will be necessary to ensure appropriate application of these assays clinically and a higher quality of antibody data used in support of published clinical studies.

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