Cytokine and cytotoxic molecule gene expression determined in peripheral blood mononuclear cells in the diagnosis of acute renal rejection

Transplantation. 2000 Oct 15;70(7):1074-80. doi: 10.1097/00007890-200010150-00014.


Background: Prevention of acute rejection is the most prevalent measure used to reduce the long-term risk of chronic allograft rejection. Until now, biopsy was the only useful diagnostic tool for monitoring allograft acute rejection, but invasiveness of this procedure limits its use. The aim of this study was to investigate the implication of peripheral blood immune markers as a predictive diagnostic tool preceding biopsy in acute renal allograft rejection determination.

Methods: Of the 61 patients studied, 13 had no rejection episodes, 8 had a proven acute rejection, and 40 were excluded for graft dysfunction causes. Mitogen-induced peripheral blood mononuclear cells were tested for interleukin- (IL) 2, IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IL-10, IL-15, Interferon-gamma, Perforin, Granzyme B, and Fas L using semiquantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). An up-regulated mRNA expression value was calculated in which a patient's sample was deemed positive if its differential expression value was equal or higher than the mean differential expression value calculated from the nonrejecting patients.

Results: IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, Interferon-gamma, Perforin, and Granzyme B mRNA levels were associated with acute rejection. When at least two of these cytokine markers were up-regulated in a given patient, 75% of the rejecting recipients were identified against 15% of the nonrejecting patients.

Conclusions: We have shown that acute rejection episodes in renal transplant recipients were associated with an increase in mRNA expression of cytokines in mitogen-induced peripheral blood mononuclear cells. The evaluation of pro-inflammatory cytokines and cytotoxic molecules prove useful in the clinical identification of acutely rejecting transplant recipients and in the justification of concomitant antirejection therapy before histological diagnosis confirmation.

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cytokines / blood*
  • Cytokines / genetics*
  • Fas Ligand Protein
  • Gene Expression
  • Graft Rejection / diagnosis
  • Granzymes
  • Humans
  • Kidney Transplantation / immunology*
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / chemistry
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / blood
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / genetics
  • Perforin
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Pore Forming Cytotoxic Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / physiology
  • Serine Endopeptidases / blood
  • Serine Endopeptidases / genetics
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / chemistry*
  • Up-Regulation


  • Biomarkers
  • Cytokines
  • FASLG protein, human
  • Fas Ligand Protein
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Pore Forming Cytotoxic Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Perforin
  • GZMB protein, human
  • Granzymes
  • Serine Endopeptidases