Six-year clinical effect of donor bone marrow infusions in renal transplant patients

Transplantation. 2001 Apr 15;71(7):827-35. doi: 10.1097/00007890-200104150-00002.


Background: To date, several single- and multicenter clinical trials have attempted to induce specific immunological unresponsiveness using donor bone marrow cell infusions to augment solid organ transplantation, but the outcomes have not been definitive.

Methods: Between September 1994 and May 1998, 63 cadaver (CAD) renal transplant recipients of either one or two postoperative donor bone marrow cell (DBMC) infusions were prospectively compared with 219 non-infused controls given equivalent immunosuppression. There was at least a 1 HLA DR antigen match present between donors and recipients. The immunosuppressive regimen included a 10-day course of OKT3 induction, and tacrolimus, mycophenolate mofetil, and methylprednisolone maintenance. A total 7.01x10(8)+/-1.9x10(8) (SD) DBMC/kg was infused into the CAD recipients on either days 4 and 11 (n=42) or one half of that dose on day 4 (n=21) postoperatively. Clinical follow-up has ranged from 2.9 to 6.3 years (mean, 4.7 years). Studies were also performed of humoral immunity and quantitative cellular chimerism.

Results: There is clear-cut equivalence in immunosuppressive dosaging and in the other major demographic variables in both groups. However, only 2/63 DBMC recipients had biopsy-proven chronic rejection, whereas 41/219 showed chronic rejection in the controls (P = <0.01). In both groups, mortality was not associated with rejection. The actuarial graft survival at 6.3 years in the CAD DBMC group was 84.3% compared with 72.2% in the control group (not statistically significant). However, if death with a functioning graft was excluded, graft survival was 94.1% in the DBMC group and 79.8% in the controls (P=0.039). Forty patients in the control group continue to have deteriorating renal function (increasing serum creatinine concentrations to 2 mg/dl and higher), compared with 2 patients in the DBMC group (P=0.04). In the DBMC group, chimerism in iliac crest marrow aspirates has increased 3-fold in yearly sequential measurements between 1 and 4 years postoperatively averaging 1.3+/-0.36% (SE) most recently. This has not occurred in the controls.

Conclusions: There now appears to be more solid long-term evidence, in kidney transplant recipients prospectively receiving DBMC infusions, of an improvement in long-term graft survival, and of the degree of chimerism positively correlating with the absence of graft loss.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bone Marrow Transplantation*
  • Chimera
  • Creatinine / blood
  • Graft Rejection / prevention & control
  • Graft Survival
  • Humans
  • Ilium / cytology
  • Ilium / physiology
  • Kidney / physiopathology
  • Kidney Transplantation* / immunology
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Prospective Studies
  • Tissue Donors*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Creatinine